As the role of information technology in health care becomes increasingly prominent, health IT career opportunities have never been more plentiful.

John Daniels, Global Vice President of HIMSS Analytics for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), spoke with Capella University about what’s happening in the field today, and the trends and challenges he sees for the future.


Q. What trends in health care technology are you seeing right now?

A. There are two in particular.

  • Electronic medical records (EMR) adoption is still a big trend. Once these new systems are implemented and optimized, we will see improved efficiencies in hospitals and medical offices. It will substantially impact the continuity of care as well. Patients will be able to move through different care settings knowing that their medical information will flow freely and securely through each of them. So, for example, if a patient arrives in the emergency room unable to answer vital questions about their health history and medications, access to an EMR will allow medical staff to make better, more informed decisions about that patient’s care, and more quickly.
  • The other trend is analytics. Today we have more and more data about patients and patient populations. The challenge is: how can we use this information to drive best practices? If, through analytics, we know a specific population is more prone to heart disease or diabetes, how do we more effectively work with that population to improve their health status? Analytics can help us identify connections in ways we haven’t been able to in the past.


Q. Is there a skills gap in the IT field, and if so, what is it?

A. There are a variety of skillsets across different areas of health care, but moving forward, we need to improve our understanding and application of the analytics process. There will be great demand for people who know how to mine different data stores and combine them to create new clinical and health care business intelligence. It seems our current perspective on analytics is still siloed, focused on either only on clinical metrics or only on business metrics. We need to put the pieces together and learn to ask the right questions to continue the transformation momentum.


Q. Can advanced education play a role in providing the right training to close the skills gap?

A. I think it can. We’re already seeing programs and certifications for physicians to acquire skills in informatics, which can help enhance their critical thinking around data analytics, learn new questioning techniques, and help them become analytics leaders.

We also need to see new analytics certifications for other health care professionals here as well.


Q. Does HIMSS align to these things? If so, how?

A. HIMSS does align. We have a Clinical and Business Intelligence Community, which is a group of people with a keen interest in these topics, and they’re actively learning more about them through HIMSS resources such as events, educational webinars, white papers, and podcasts, among other things. This a community with people from every aspect of health care, all looking for best practices through the application of health care IT analytics. HIMSS Analytics also provides tools and services to help move the industry forward. These tools and services include the EMR Adoption Model, the Continuity of Care Maturity Model (CCMM), and analytics assessment services.


Capella offers degree programs in health information management, informatics, and analytics.

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