The development of chief clinical information officers has got off to a flying start, but future clinical information leaders need in-depth support and career development to fully realise their potential.
That was one of the messages at the first, joint EHI / BCS CCIO Symposium, which was held in may in support of the CCIO Leaders Network that was been launched to extend the goals of the EHI CCIO Campaign.
“I’m glad this campaign has started. It does feel like a real movement,” Di Millen, head of workforce development and professionalism, told the event.
Millen went on to compare the move to get more clinicians involved in information leadership to the move to involve more clinicians in health management that has taken place over the past 15 years.
She also said it was part of a move to get doctors, nurses and other clinicians to take a more “holistic approach” to patient data, focusing on analysing data on outcomes, identifying at risk patients, and population-level health.
“Clinicians have got to be able to analyse data and they need to be trained in data management and analysis,” said Millen.
She also told the event that a rich vein of training and professional development is available to CCIOs, if they tap into the development resources created for health informatics professionals over the past decade.
However, she acknowledged that the DH’s support for developing informatics professionals faced an uncertain future.
The latest development is the new Health Informatics Career Framework. HICF includes 95 different health informatics roles, with associated listings of competencies, core functions and individual job descriptions.
The site also contains case studies and a range of other resources. However, most of the work done to date is for junior staff and middle managers.
And nothing has yet been developed specifically for clinicians looking to develop informatics skills. With the Department of Health Informatics Directorate due to cease operations in April 2013, this represents a big challenge.
“How can we fashion career pathways for career pathways for clinicians that want to do more on informatics? How do you build the credibility of clinical informatics career pathway?” asked Millen.
She said that the model job description developed by BCS Health as part of its contribution to the EHI CCIO Campaign, was a good start, but was as yet mainly focused at doctors.
The CCIO Leaders Network will shortly publish a collection of CCIO job descriptions.
Millen said that one good available resource on clinical leadership was the NHS Clinical Leaders Network, which was launched to help develop local clinical leaders. The network now offers a series e-learning modules.
With initial CCIOs now appointed, she argued that a very constructive move would be to get “each CCIO to mentor others."
She added that important lessons could be learned from the US, where the development of chief medical information officers [the US equivalent of a CCIO] is up to 20 years ahead of the UK.
Ultimately, UK CCIOs may evolve their own professional body, like the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems.
But Millen argued that the push towards getting health informatics recognised as a profession is a long-term project.
“[Experts say it] takes 50 years for a profession to be recognised, so we are part way there.”
A move to professionalism is a key objective of the BCS Health Group and UK CHIP – the UK Council for Health Informatics Professions – which has been promoting the registration, certification and professionalism of health informatics professionals for the past 12 years.
The CCIO Leaders Network is beginning to collect and will soon publish links to the best available professional development resources and tools for CCIOs.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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As the Clinical Champion for an electronic health records roll out in a very large trust for the past 2 years I remain as convinced as ever that clinicians should be centrally involved in IT projects, after all we are usually the end users of these systems. I fully support the campaign for every NHS provider organisation to consider appointing a chief clinical information officer (CCIO). IT specialists cannot and should not second guess what clinicians and patients need nor how we work, it can only be done in collaboration and responsibility for quality and governance should be shared.
A meaningful political proposal upon which everyone agrees is unusual.
(Charicaturing to illustrate) I suspect that CCIO enthusiasts are envisaging either
1. A "tame" CCIO to lead truculent clinical end users to eagerly accept whatever system is foist upon them.
2. A "rampant tiger" CCIO who will deliver an absolutely perfect system to the truculent clinical end users (or nothing)
Satisfying both expectations will be tricky.
Moreover we lack a definition of which stages of the EHR deployment process the CCIO will preside over (specification, procurement, tailoring, testing and sign-off).
What powers should the CCIO have at each step: advisory only; vote on major decisions; veto or lead/sole final decision maker?
Remember whatever power the CCIO is granted is taken away from someone else.
Were such details considered up front, consensus might be harder to obtain.
This will only be possible if an implementation is clinically led and ensure clinical buy-in/ownership. In order to achieve it, requires clinical leadership, understanding of clinical process and above all a level of trust and confidence in the project. This can only be delivered by a clinician leading the process. The CCIO role should be a pre-requisite to any large scale deployment
A mandatory clinical information lead should determine primarily how to move off paper clinical records completely and on to meaningful electronic clinical notes. Electronic record must replace paper clinical records not run in parallel with them.
It might sound daunting but paper clinical records must be phased out and essentially this is what a CCIO should be employed to achieve at a Trust / FT level.
We must continue to deliver ever safer and better quality care - fundamental to this aspiration will be digital health record systems - and vital to successful deployment and adoption is effective clinical informatics leadership.
The NHS should recognise this, and embrace the need to develop the CCIO role, as well as an informatics career path for clinicians who feel that they can contribute to improving the lot of our patients by exploiting patient-centric digital health care systems.