175279 Introducing public health informatics into a new MPH program at a university

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Susan M. Salkowitz, MA, MGA , Salkowitz Associates, LLC, Philadelphia, PA
Ruth Gubernick, MPH , Consultant-Public Health Program Development, Cherry Hill, NJ
Robert Simmons, DrPH, MPH, CHES , Master of Public Health (MPH) Program, Department of Health Policy, Jefferson College of Graduate Studies, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
David B. Nash, MD, MBA , Department of Health Policy, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Richard C. Wender, MD , Department of Family and Community Medicine, Jefferson Medical College Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Public health practice is data driven and increasingly supported by informatics and the use of health information technology. (HIT) Thomas Jefferson University's relatively new MPH program has courses in Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Services Research, and other related fields, but has not offered continuing education nor has a course targeted to Public Health Informatics. Objective/Purpose: Increases in the use of health information technology are expected to greatly impact medical care, research, and specifically public and population health in the future. Public health practitioners and researchers need to be educated as to the opportunities and barriers about the expanding uses of health information for program and policy decision making. There is increasing need to develop strategies and approaches to manage and appropriately share data in their organizations, and to adopt national standards and practices. Methods: A two-hour Public Health Informatics Symposium was conducted in 2008, in collaboration with local health departments, utilizing national experts to coordinate and present an overview of national, state, and local initiatives in this area. Specific case examples of state and local projects using informatics to drive population health program and policy decisions were presented. Jefferson students, faculty, local health departments and the greater Philadelphia community participated in the event. As a result, public health informatics may be incorporated into the Jefferson MPH program current courses or offered as a separate elective course. Result: Provided future public health and clinical professionals with a basic understanding of public health informatics concepts, current developments and potential uses to support them in their respective practices. Conclusion: Incremental approach allows a new MPH program to introduce public health informatics and to evaluate future curriculum requirements and phase them in as individual courses, or integrated into existing courses, as student demand and new developments in public health informatics unfold.

Learning Objectives:
Describe how a new MPH program has introduced public health informatics content to the MPH program and the university community. Recognize the benefits of an incremental approach to enriching the MPH curriculum. Discuss the importance of flexibility to a new MPH program to keep courses current for evolving content and student needs

Keywords: Public Health Informatics, Public Health Curriculum

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a consultant in public health information systems and public health informatics for over 15 years and am a Board Member of the Public Health Data Standards Consortium and the American Immunization Registry Association and have coordinated the public health informatics symposium for Thomas Jefferson University
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.