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Imaging informatics and the clinical informatics umbrella

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | July 18, 2018
Health IT
From the July 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Towbin detailed that, in his experience, an imaging informatics professional takes about a year to fully integrate into the team. “At about six months, they can start taking overnight calls, but they don’t really feel comfortable for the entire first year. They are learning a lot of systems and it takes time to understand the nuances of each one,” he said.

According to Towbin, clinical informatics boards for physicians don’t acknowledge a need for specialized imaging informatics training separate from the broader clinical informatics. The clinical informatics programs do not necessarily recognize that the two are different. “That makes it difficult, but not impossible, for radiologists to be board certified with informatics,” said Towbin. “In the short term it’s possible because there’s a grandfather clause allowing informaticists with experience to become board certified, but, that clause sunsets a few years from now. After that time, radiologists will have to complete a two-year fellowship to get the board certification. Many radiologists won’t complete the clinical informatics fellowship as it would add another two years to their training. This is in addition to five years of residency and one year needed for most clinical radiology fellowships.” If a radiologist were to complete a clinical informatics fellowship he or she would have to complete 7 or 8 years of post-graduate medical training. The two-year clinical fellowship is currently built for physicians who have completed an internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics training program. For these graduates, the total post-graduate training is five years.”

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While Towbin stated that radiologist have much to learn from a clinical informatics fellowship, he stated that the added is significant and much of what is learned may not directly apply to a radiologist’s later work. Towbin believes that the major benefits of this type of fellowship training include a greater exposure to the EMR, a greater understanding of the challenges information systems solve and cause throughout the enterprise, and a broader understanding of clinical workflow outside of radiology. This type of experience can be invaluable for radiologists who have a desire to become a Chief Medical Informatics Officer or a Chief Informatics Officer. However, while this training can help a radiologist understand the challenges of the larger institution, it may not prepare him or her for the challenges of a radiology informatics practice.

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