By Manish Kumar, MPH, MS, Senior Technical Specialist, Health Systems Strengthening, MEASURE Evaluation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kate Jackson, Research Manager, AHIMA Foundation
Strengthening the capacity of health information professionals is crucial for enhancing the performance of health information systems. Two organizations that aim to strengthen health information professionals globally are addressing this challenge.
The MEASURE Evaluation project, led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, aims to build the core competencies of health information professionals involved in routine health information systems (RHIS) in low- and middle-income countries. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the AHIMA Foundation focus on creating standard curricula for health information professionals, including those working in health information management, health informatics, and health information and communications technology.
Along with a number of global partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the MEASURE Evaluation Project is currently collaborating on the development of an RHIS strengthening curriculum. The RHIS curriculum outlines core RHIS competencies and offers a systematic learning opportunity to impart the knowledge and skill required for those in the health workforce engaged in RHIS strengthening in low- and middle-income countries.
We think that the RHIS curriculum under development will contribute to improved performance of health information professionals and ultimately add value to the overall performance of health systems. And it is timely: we believe that capacity development of health information professionals is garnering increased attention at important forums. For example, strengthening the health informatics workforce was one of the key issues deliberated by delegates attending the American Health Informatics Association 2015 Symposium in San Francisco in November.
While MEASURE Evaluation’s work is focused on strengthening national health information systems in collaboration with national and international organizations, AHIMA and the AHIMA Foundation have focused on the development of global, standard curricula for health information professionals through efforts funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program.
Together, we recognize the growing need for these educational standards, workforce training, and professional resources in the low- and middle-income countries, and are committed to ensuring that health information practices worldwide are governed by appropriate quality standards.
The inextricable link between academic and workforce competencies is also recognized by AHIMA’s global curricula initiative, which brings together leaders in the academic and workforce realms from global health information communities to guide the development of these foundational curricula. To this end, AHIMA and the Global Health Workforce Council recently released the Global Academic Curricula Competencies for Health Information Professionals. The document outlines key domains of HIM, HI, and HICT.
Contributing to such efforts, an international expert working group convened by AHIMA and involving MEASURE Evaluation experts has published a role mapping document that serves as a resource for use in determining how domains within the Global Academic Curricula Competencies for Health Information Professionals map to occupational roles.
The role mapping document outlines key competencies related to the expected job responsibilities for a particular job position. It also offers practical guidance for adapting or developing new job functions by combining the required competencies to meet evolving organization needs and priorities. The list of roles provided in the resource document focuses on health informatics, health ICT, and health information management disciplines.
AHIMA is also leading the work of the Global Health Workforce Council and working with global leaders in the health information professions of HIM, HI, and HICT to adopt the global curricula competencies. These leadership initiatives of AHIMA assume greater significance given that AHIMA is also the secretariat to the ISO/Technical Committee 215 on Health Informatics (ISO/TC215) as administrator of the United States Technical Advisory Group, the delegation representing the United States to ISO/TC215.
We strongly believe that the efforts of MEASURE Evaluation, AHIMA, and the AHIMA Foundation to develop the capacity of health information professionals are creating a solid foundation for expanding such efforts at country level.
For more information
MEASURE Evaluation, a flagship project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), focuses on strengthening health information systems and robust evaluation for better use of data for decision making. See www.measureevaluation.org or http://www.cpc.unc.edu/measure/our-work/health-information-systems.