Health Informatics Interview with Roland Casem

A Master of Health Informatics is an advanced degree that combines the fields of computer science, information science and healthcare. A Health Informaticst, sometimes referred to as a medical or nursing informaticist, applies their unique skill-set and medical knowledge to help digitize health records and make health data accessible globally.

Informaticist Roland Casem, works as a clinical analyst at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. In this interview, Roland offers valuable information about his education and careerto help aspiring health informaticist students learn more about the profession and the wide variety of career options that are available to them.

  1. Why did you decide to pursue health informatics as a profession?
  2. Can you describe your educational path to becoming a health informaticist?
  3. What are the main projects or research areas you are working on in your current position?
  4. What is your typical work day like?
  5. What do you like best about working in health informatics?
  6. What do you like least about your profession?
  7. Do you have any helpful tools, books or resources for someone who is an aspiring health informaticist?
  8. What are the top skills necessary for someone to be successful as a health informaticist?
  9. Online informatics program, especially at the graduate level are becoming more popular. What benefits do you see from obtaining your health informatics graduate education online?
  10. How do you see the field of health informatics evolving over the next 5-10 years?

1. Why did you decide to pursue health informatics as a profession?

I loved my job as a nurse (and I will always be proud to be one). But my innate desire for continued personal and educational growth motivated me to pursue a career in healthcare informatics. I wanted to develop my public speaking skills while learning how to conduct myself as an I.T. executive. From an educational standpoint I wanted to learn not only a particular clinical information system but information technology in general. Travel for training, seminars and conferences is another perk, in addition to meeting new people in the industry. By changing professions, not only have I achieved those goals, I also earned extra money for my pocket!

2. Can you describe your educational path to becoming a health informaticist?

I got introduced initially to health informatics while employed as a Surgical ICU Staff Nurse at St. Elizabeth Hospital (now known as Trinitas Regional Medical Center) in Elizabeth, New Jersey. My nurse manager that time, requested that I attend training for the newly purchased clinical information system that was going to be deployed hospital-wide shortly. Her goal was for me to train the rest of the ICU staff and eventually become the department super-user come implementation time. As I got more involved with the training activities, I was offered the job of a Clinical Systems Analyst which I gladly accepted. I did have to complete several technical system trainings before becoming an integral member of the team, and eventually managing the Nursing, Pharmacy and several ancillary applications within the clinical information system. I also took over end-user training completely. When I joined the Information Systems and Technology department of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, to work as an analyst for their project team, I had to go through training as well. I became certified in multiple applications of the Epic System. The certifications are of course based on successful completion of all the required training, certification projects and examinations. I have to maintain my certification by completing the New Version Training that goes with each system version upgrade, which happens yearly.

3. What are the main projects or research areas you are working on in your current position?

I am one of several analysts in my team at NYUMC for their ongoing Epic system implementation project. Based on my previous experience, I was designated to take the lead ownership for everything related to system user security configuration as they apply to the EpicCare Inpatient Application. In addition, I co-own the procedure orderable configuration in the system for several procedure categories. These are the records that will eventually be used for order entry by the physicians when the application is deployed in the hospital.

4. What is your typical work day like?

On any given day, there is always a meeting of some sort. The meeting can go from a brief status update of what each team member is working on to a lengthy discussion of the implementation project as a whole, to discuss progress, timelines, deliverables or obstacles. Administrative communication either by e-mail, status reports, and build tracker can also take a huge portion of your workday. Multi- tasking may be an understatement as one work day may start light but can end up very hectic.

5. What do you like best about working in health informatics?

I like networking with clinicians, other healthcare and information technology professionals, to talk about new trends or tools in health informatics that will continue to foster safe, efficient, cost-effective, timely patient care.

6. What do you like least about your profession

Information Technology is dynamic causing a higher number of turn-over for health informatics professionals. They come and go quite rapidly. You are constantly adjusting to a new colleague, getting him/her acquainted to the new workplace.

7. Do you have any helpful tools, books or resources for someone who is an aspiring health informaticist?

The first online resource that comes to mind is HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society). Its website (www.himss.org) has a plethora of news, topics and other information, that talks about the optimal use of information technology and management systems for continuously improving healthcare. Several nationally known healthcare information systems also have their own website that provides information about their system in general – what they can offer as far as improving delivery of healthcare through their information systems.

8. What are the top skills necessary for someone to be successful as a health informaticist?

To be a successful health informatics professional, you need the enthusiasm and the ability to work under pressure, be it independently or in a team. You also need to possess effective communication skills to be able to disseminate information to colleagues and clients. Good organization can make your life easier in the business. A working knowledge with computers can be beneficial so you can facilitate troubleshooting problems when they arise. Finally, good analytical skills will help you see a system problem or an end user request in the “big picture”. Good problem resolution almost always comes out as a result of good issue analysis.

9. Online informatics program, especially at the graduate level are becoming more popular. What benefits do you see from obtaining your health informatics graduate education online?

I find online graduate education to be very accessible, flexible and cost-effective.

  • Accessibility: It allows you to attend classes from anywhere there is an access to a computer.
  • Flexibility: You can work at your own pace and conveniences as you are not tied to a classroom schedule. You can adjust your schedule to accommodate personal or family commitment.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Online education does not require you to quit full-time employment, nor does it require you to travel to and from school thereby saving you from commuting or transportation expenses.

10. How do you see the field of health informatics evolving over the next 5-10 years?

The demand for experienced health informatics professionals has increased tremendously through the years. At these times when many businesses shut down to cope up with the economic difficulties, the healthcare industry continues to grow with no signs of slowing down. Healthcare informatics as an industry will continue to research and discover tools to find out better solutions for different problems in health and medicine.

Featured Master's in Healthcare Informatics Programs

Health informatics is the study of how technology, particularly artificial intelligence, computer science, and informational science relates to the medical field. This field of study is typically applied to clinical care, nursing, public health, and biomedical research. The universities and colleges listed below offer online master's degree programs in this subject

Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers several graduate programs which could be completed in as little as 18 months. Their online Master's in Healthcare Informatics is designed to prepare students to lead the planning, design, execution and maintenance of health information systems.
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Walden University
Students studying in Walden's health informatics master's degree program will learn the basic skills required to use advanced technology in the healthcare industry, specifically applying health informatics to improve the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. Walden also offers two informatics tracks in the MSN program: an RN-MSN track and a BSN-MSN track.
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University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix offers students a Master of Health Administration in Health Informatics program that emphasizes the importance of technology used in today's healthcare facilities. Students graduating from this program will be well prepared to operate and adopt new technology methods in a healthcare environment.
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Grand Canyon University
America's largest online christian university, Grand Canyon University, offers a Master of Science in Health Care Informatics degree that provides students with knowledge of the concepts of systems life cycles, data management, and health informatics. Graduates of this program will be well suited for a career as a medical technologist or other upper-level healthcare professional. For students looking for a nursing-focused informatics degree, GCU offers an MSN in Informatics program.
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Kaplan University
The Master of Science in nursing informatics from Kaplan University enriches student's knowledge of dealing in technology-rich healthcare environments. Graduates of this program will be eligible to become nurse practitioners and will be able to pursue informatics leadership roles in healthcare, business, and education settings.
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