UIC Health Informatics Info-Session Webinar

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Learn details from UIC faculty, staff and graduates on program requirements, course delivery, structure and expectations, academic advising, tuition and payment options.

Hosted on March 18, 2015


Hello everyone. My name is Camille Gillett and I am one of the enrollment advisors for the Health Informatics Program here at the University of Illinois Chicago. And it’s my pleasure to welcome you to our Health Informatics Information Session Webinar. I know you’re all very busy and we do appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to join us today.

Presenting with me today is my colleague Joan Ziegler, who’s also and enrollment advisor. We’ll get to meet our Student Advisor Rosanna Giovan and we’ll also hear from our guest speaker Eric Swirsky. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor here at the university.

Today we will discuss a few topics. We’ll be introduced briefly to the program administration. We’ll review the program requirements. Go over course structure and delivery. We’ll talk about the course expectations, blackboard orientation, academic advising. We’ll also go over the tuition for the program as well as payment options. And Eric Swirsky will be our guest speaker and we’ll also cover the next step.

To the right of your screen you will see a chat box, which will enable you to answer any questions you may have. We’ll be addressing these questions during the question and answer session at the end of the presentation. You can enter your question at any time during the presentation.

Our program administration includes Dr. Larry Pawola, he is the head and Director of Graduate Studies. He’s also Clinical Professor. Dr. Mike Dieter, Program Director for Health Informatics. He’s also Clinical Assistant Professor. Olympia Kalagidis, she is a Clinical Assistant Professor here at the university and also graduate of our Health Informatics Program. And Rosanna Giovan, which we’ll hear from today and Jennifer Sneddon our Program Student Advisor.

Our Health Informatics Program is an interdisciplinary program, it does encompass informatics for all major areas in the healthcare industry. These include nursing informatics, pharmacy informatics, public health, clinical, medical data research and analysis. Our Health Informatics Program arise as one of the best in the country. It’s also one of the oldest. We’ve been teaching health informatics for about 24 years. The program was established in 1991.

Our program is also offered 100% online. It does not require a visit to the campus here in Chicago. The program is also CAHIIM accredited. Now CAHIIM stands for Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management. So with our program, students learn not only how to design, develop, implement and evaluate the electronic health record systems, but also how to analyze the information and interpret the results to either use it to provide better patient care or communicate the results to the healthcare practitioners, so they can provide better patient outcome.

So we offer two options to the Health Informatics Program. We offer the masters of Science in Health Informatics. For this program you would need a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree to qualify and at least two years of really good work experience. The program requires a minimum of 45 credits, which comes down to about 15 classes, which would include 3 electives. For those with a graduate degree or higher, you may consider the post master’s certificate. That program requires a minimum of 24 credits to complete, which is double classes. Now the post master’s certificate, it’s an 18 months program versus the master’s which is a two and a half month program.

Now with regards to the course structure and delivery, we do offer three opportunities to start the program each year. There’s the upcoming summer semester. We also have fall starts and spring as well. The classes are taught in an eight week format. Which makes is really easy for busy professionals to balance the amount of work and career with this school so typically students will take one class for eight weeks and another class for another eight weeks. The only time you have an overlap in two classes is during the summer semesters because they’re a bit shorter.

So now I’ll turn it over to my colleague Joan, who will review the course expectations with you.

Thank you Camille. All of our courses are asynchronous. So what that means is that you can log in at any time into our program. There’s no set time that you have to log in. And that makes it really convenient for our students. We have about 400 students in this program, and a lot of them are working professionals, so it really makes it a convenient program. And it is 100% online so there’s no requirement to come to campus, so that’s another great thing. Camille mentioned that we are CAHIIM accredited. Out of the four schools that are accredited, we’re the first one, and we’re the only one that is 100% online.

Students should expect to spend about 25 to 30 hours per week for each 4 credit hour course that they’re taking, but keep in mind you’re usually taking 1 class in your first 8 weeks and 1 in your second 8 weeks. And I’m sure some of you have already taken online courses before. We use Blackboard and that’s our discussion board hosting. So you’ll be getting into Blackboard and you’ll have assignments due and you’ll not only post your assignments, but you’ll also post comments about what the other students are writing about.

You’ll also have individual assignments or papers that are due, usually weekly, and you’ll have group assignments as well. You’ll have a group tool, called a Wiki, which is similar to Google Docs when your group will all have access to that document. And they’ll be working collaboratively on a group assignment, also usually due weekly.

What’s nice is that you have a lot of opportunity for networking within our program. Many of our students are working in informatics right now so between the discussion board and the group assignments you have lots of opportunity for networking and finding out about jobs and what they’re doing. There’s also a minute paper. And the minute paper is just a quick response to a question that your professor has been asking you for periodically throughout the program.

Now I’d like to introduce you to Rosanna, who’s one of our student advisors, and she’s going to talk about orientation as well as academic advising and tuition payment.

Rosanna Giovan:              Thank you Joan. Hi my name is Rosanna, I’m the advisor on the program. All students are required to do an orientation through Blackboard, which is the course management system that we use for all the courses. They will be mandatory that you complete the orientation before you register for your online courses. And it’s step up like an actual course with assignments due at intervals throughout the orientation to help you become familiar with online learning and introduce you to available resources.

Orientation requirements must be completed, as I mentioned, before the first day of class or typically before you register for your classes. The online program orientation includes the introduction to your classmates, instructions and tutorials on the UIC online library, Blackboard Learn platform, critical thinking, APA style formatting, and how to use a Wiki for your group project.

Practice using a learning platform before your course starts. It is important to know how to navigate through Blackboard just so that you don’t miss any important announcements or assignments due on certain days.

As far as academic advising, prerequisite courses must be taken in your first semester, and we’ll discuss that when we do have our initial call before you start the program. Prerequisite requirements will be discussed with you individually. It is based on the student’s basis and their background. And I also provide students with a list of available courses to register for every term.

The tuition is 750 dollars per credit hour. Payment options include the following: You can use student loans and financial aid. Payment plans, which are only available in the fall and spring terms only or you can just pay full payments each semester. Payments can be made online by check or credit card. And just as an important note, UIC does not accept a VISA as a form of payment.

Joan Ziegler:                       Thank you Rosanna. Now I’d like to introduce Eric Swirsky, who is a clinical assistant professor and an interesting fun fact about Eric is he worked in Mother Teresa’s mission in India and also worked in the U.S. Department of Justice. He has his Master’s in Arts and his Law Degree from American University Washington College of Law. And Eric teaches three classes. He teaches communication skills, he also teaches ethics and legal issues and introduction to health informatics. Eric.

Eric Swirsky:                       Thank you very much. I appreciate the invitation to come and speak today. It’s always a privilege to get to do this type of thing. I don’t get that … to meet with prospective students very often. So this is a nice change.

I do teach classes related to communication and ethics. Many people think those are soft skills but what I find is that the skills that I tried to impart on students in those classes are things that are helpful both in professional and also personally. Dealing with complex issues knowing how to problem solve can help us in many different aspects of our lives and the more practice we have doing that, and failing at it, I suppose, the better we become, communication also.

We have to know the proper way to communicate to different audiences and also the way to present the information to different people in different ways. Which is really essential for informaticians because of the complex environments and the rigidly hierarchical environments that healthcare organizations tend to be. If your communicating to nurses, it’s a very, very different audience and manner of communication than to surgeons, for a variety of reasons. And so, an informatician needs to take account of that in preparing to communicate and to implement technology or whatever it is that the informatician is there to do.

I wanted to … I was interested in really to speak today so that I could answer questions. I’m sure the people out there have questions about our program. People have options in the market of education today and its certainly a lot different than when I was in school. It’s much more of a business decision. When I graduated it was just a thing that people went and did. They went to college and started getting degrees. These days its much different. People have options particularly with online education and so people should have a very good idea of the product before they’re going to buy it.

And what I would say as someone that practiced corporate law and venture capital law, that the product here is superior. And I say that not only as someone that believes in it but, as you know, I’m in the program and I’m helping to deliver the product, and create the product. So for any questions about what it is that we do, who we are as faculty members certainly I can answer questions like that. What it is we’re trying to do through our teaching methods and the curriculum, what courses are like and that’s gonna be the part and parcel of what I’m gonna talk about as we move on. And then what this all means for you who. Well ultimately where is the value.

What I wanted to do is move on and show you one of my classes. Give you an idea of what that will look like. So on my next slide, what you’ll see is a landing page for my class. This is the announcements page. Generally I think all of our classes, when a student logs on to a class, they hit the announcements page. This is the communications class I’m teaching currently. It just started. Theses are eight week classes and so the last one opens up on the first week in March.

The first discussion is going on now. I have a grammar module that I give upfront to get students used to scholarly writing, you know we’re looking for things to be written in a certain way. Citation is important. It’s much different than casual writing. And so we’re trying to get students to get used to doing things in a different way and we need to get up to speed rather quickly. You should keep in mind that in an 8 week class, it’s the same amount of material as the 16 week class. It’s just compressed into half the time. And so, week to week your assignments may have more reading or what seems to be a ridiculous amount of reading, sometimes. You have to keep in mind that it would be 2 weeks of a 16 week class and so things are accelerated as a result of that.

So this is the announcements page where we as faculty communicate issues to students, welcome them to the class, or let them know of global issues that students need to know about. And this is what you would see when you land. You can also see on the left, there’s a menu of options for students and the first one is announcements. Right underneath that is calendar, which many faculty use to let students know when assignments are due, when discussions are happening and so forth. And then under there is the syllabus, which I’ll give you a glimpse of it in my next slide. Which you can just see the top of my syllabus for this class, communication skills for spring 15.

We’ve discussed what the course description is, what the objectives are, the course topics, what the learning units, each unit is going to entail, what readings, where to find readings, required books, etc. I tend to use the E-Reserves a lot in my classes. I have a hate, hate relationship with publishers I guess you could say. The rising cost of books without a rise in value really were disturbing to me so I tend to use a lot of fair use and articles for students. So you would find information on how to access articles and so forth within my syllabus.

Every class has a different syllabus so it’s very, very important that students read it. We know from the questions that we get that students don’t read the syllabi thoroughly. It’s really your best friend early on. Make it a habit very early on in your academic careers here to read through the syllabus because you don’t have the same access. You don’t bump into your faculty members and colleagues the way that you do with a face to face class so you have to be more aware of things and the syllabus is where you’re gonna find everything being collected.

The next button down there, it says bulletin board. Some people call it discussion board, I call it bulletin board. And if you click on the next slide there you’ll see that there are two places in my classes for general water cooler type discussion. There’s a student lounge, where students can post things to each other. I look in there infrequently to see what’s going on. To see if there’s something I can shine in. For example, in this particular class, the students were talking about the HIMSS Convention that’s going on here in Chicago in April and wanting to know who was attending. And I will be there on Tuesday the 14th, I think it’s the 14th, so April 14th I’ll be at HIMSS and that lets students know where they can find me if they’re interested to find me there. And you too, I’ll be at the table I think between 11 and 1 o’clock at HIMSS if you wanna talk to me about stuff.

And then there’s another area you can see there called questions for the instructors. And you can see right now students have posted about 43 times and there are a variety of topics in there regarding clarification, how to find certain things, perhaps somethings not working for the students, they can’t access Blackboard, “What do I do?”, of course if you’re posting in Blackboard here. But sometimes there are problems that come up and this is one way to communicate with me. Students are free to call me as they like or email me or post in this, in this general discussion board. This is a good place for more global issues that, issues that other students may be experiencing too such as timeouts in Blackboard or formatting issues which complicate matters at times, or just general questions that come up, whatever it is you can post it here. I scan this daily for students to make sure that I’m available to them.

Next down on the menu is the units areas. And in the units area, and you’ll see it on my next slide, you got it, you’ll see where all the different weekly units are. My units run week to week. They’re all seven days long. They begin on Mondays and then on Sunday’s, it’s the academic week. And so this is where you would access all of the information, unit one, two, three. In my class now we’re currently in unit one. And you can get a glimpse of that on my next slide.

When you click on unit one, this is what you would see. It kind of looks like my syllabus. I try to have things mirror each other so it makes it easier to find information. But I drilled down into the specific week. Here I’m going through, The Very Basics of Theory and The Introduction to the Interpersonal Communication. I’m stating what the purpose of the unit, what my objectives are, what I hope it is that students will learn and how we will do it in the class and then give the assignment.

This week it’s just a discussion and so I’ve posted questions for students. They’re going to go into the discussion boards and then discuss them as I’d like to. And that is found in the groups area, which you would click the button on the left there, groups, then you would see the list of all the groups. Students in my class have access to one group each week. I switch up the group assignments so students are not stuck with their colleagues every single week. I hated … that was one thing I hated I Law School, everybody is together the first year. You’re with the same people in every single class day in and day out, and I like to switch up the group dynamic. Group dynamics can be good or really, really bad but it’s important to get a different flavor because different students can bring something different to the table. You never know what a mix might bring and what knowledge might be produced hopefully within that working group.

I tend to have pretty large groups so discussion boards can get … well if there’s a lot of discussion going on, they can get quite clogged with comments, but for the most part it works. I think it’s better to be working down from more than be struggling to have a conversation when there’s only five people in a group and everybody is waiting ’til the last minute. I try to keep groups at around 10 to 14 students. And so there’s more of a range for commentary and personality and also times when people are posting.

So here we would go into group one and see what group one looks like and you can get a flavor of it. I asked seven questions in this particular unit. I give the readings for students to do and then I ask a series of discovery questions. One of them, for example, this week was, “Why are communication skills important for informaticians?”, it’s a very vague nebulous question and it’s intended to be. It lets the student write about whatever she would like to write about without being too confined. Other questions are more specific. I ask about specific theories and how an informatician might employ one or the other, or which might be better in a given situation or in a case if I provide a particular case and ask students to apply a given theory to it. That’s what goes on in the discussion boards.

I think on my next slide I gave an example of what it looks like within the threads, yeah I did. Here in question two, I posted the question, that’s the first post up there, and then one of the students responded. I blurred out the name there, the particular student, but that’s the students reply there. And then other students will post answers to the original question or comment on what this student wrote, and really by the end of the discussion period, what I would like to see is a combination of responses to my question and then also replies to other students. Because that’s ultimately what a discussion is. If everybody is just answering the question and not discussing or commenting on each other’s posts, then it becomes a bulletin board and not truly a discussion and we’re looking for discussion. Because what we’re hoping is that it helps to create new knowledge for students. If you’re only posting your own thing and not considering what anybody else has to write, either your colleagues here, the fellow students or the faculty, then there’s no real learning or growing happening and so we wanna make sure there’s discussion.

And that’s all about … About all I have now for my class. I invite any questions at the end of the session, but this gives a quick overview of what a class might look like here in our program.

Joan Ziegler:                       Thank you Eric. This is really beneficial and if you are interested we’d like you to contact us. We have five enrollment advisors on our program, including myself and Camille. We also have Richard, Meagan and Tiffany. So feel free to get in touch with us. Our summer deadline is coming up, April 15th. We have a very easy online application process so definitely get in touch with us so that you can meet our summer deadline.

Otherwise, we do have fall right around the corner as well. At this point we’re going to answering any questions that you submitted via the chat feature. So if you haven’t had a chance yet, please feel free to go in and ask questions that we’ll be addressing. Eric will help us address the questions as well, Camille and myself. And if you have additional questions that we’re not able to answer today, we will definitely be following up with you. This will be recorded, this webinar, and we’ll be sending it out to you as well. It will be on our website too.

To get started, Eric you mentioned earlier about faculty and kinda what sets our faculty apart. Obviously you bring a very diverse background to our program. Could you tell a little bit more about our faculty, as far the diversity and what expectations our faculty have of our students?

Eric Swirsky:                       Yeah, it’s hard to get into your last question first getting … Faculty expectations are gonna be different, frankly. Everybody expects something different but the expectations really should be and generally are, as far as I know, listed in the syllabus. And part of that has to do with the demands of the material. For example, I’m teaching truly non technical classes, grammar may be a little bit technical, but technical in a different way, not technical in the same way as let’s say, a security class. Ethics is much softer around the edges. I’m not looking for correct answers. I’m looking for discussion and analysis, and synthesis of material. And so, the reading requirements in my class, for example, are higher than some other classes and that shouldn’t scare anyone off but there’s a lot of, there’s some reading that has to be done if we’re gonna talk about philosophy, which is what ethics is. So there’s some reading and discussion of cases.

Other faculty may have quizzes or other types of assessments that require something different of the student but this I can say, that whatever the requirements are and the expectations are for students, they are manifold, they’re manifold for the faculty because online education in my experience takes … it takes more time. There’s more benefits to be gained out of it, I think, because there’s more access, but you have to take more of an active role.

In my face to face classes, it’s more or less the same day in and day out, at least for my core classes. Electives are a little bit different, everybody’s choosing to be there. But in my core classes that are face to face, it’s the same 10 to 15 percent of students that have their hands up every single time. And then the large majority of the class doesn’t say anything and then there’s another 20 percent that sometimes chimes in. It’s more or less the same. In the online environment everybody has to contribute. You can’t sit back and watch a discussion if you have to post. You can read other people and let them help you get your own writing started but everybody needs to chip in to make it work and also to get a grade.

And so I find that it really, for graduate students, it can really help to bring out the best in us because we’re really trying to pull it out of you. We are not the sage on the stage, you know, that’s not the way that this type of education is delivered. We’re trying to pull everything out of you. Giving you readings, giving you things to think about, I’ve been asking probing questions and perhaps some Socratic method online through the use of question and answer to try to draw the material out of you.

Our faculty is diverse and can bring out different things in students in different ways. As you pointed out, my background is in law and the humanities. We have a physician who also has a background in mathematics. We have nurses on the faculty on our adjunct faculty. We have clinical researchers and research informaticians. We have consultants, we have people who are just flat out educators. But the diversity of our faculty and the backgrounds that we represent and the disciplines that we’ve studied is really one of our biggest benefits. We’re not all just at the bench. Many of us have been out there working in the private sector, the consultants certainly have, such as Larry Palola, who’s a very successful consultant. And so we’ve all been in the trenches but in different ways, and its very, very important to have the diverse perspective because that is the day to day reality of an informatician.

Joan Ziegler:                       Thank you Eric. That’s really, really helpful. Another question that we have is, “Do I need any specific type of degree, like healthcare, or any type of background to apply to either of the programs?”, Camille?

Camille:                                Actually no specific degree or background is required before applying to the program. Actually anyone with a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree and at least a 3.0 GPA would be considered as long as they have 2 years of experience that could be related to health informatics.

Joan Ziegler:                       Great. And a question is about the post master’s program, if that’s also CAHIIM accredited. The answer is yes. The master’s is 15 courses and the post master’s courses are 7 and those courses are all part of the master’s program. So that addresses another question which is, “Can I start in the post master’s program and then take classes in the master’s program?”, absolutely. So if you’ve already got a master’s degree, if your MBA is from a AACSB school, if you have a pharmD, if you are a physician, you can start in our post master’s program and then while you’re a student, you would work with Rosanna or Jennifer and apply to our master’s program. So a lot of people like to start with the post master’s and then consider getting the master’s down the road while they’re still a student. You would have to determine that while you’re still a student you can’t graduate from the post master’s and then move in to the master’s program.

Camille:                                Okay so we have another question with regards to, “What type of support do students get in the program?”. And I’ll turn this one over to Rosanna.

Rosanna Giovan:              Thank you, Camille. So we try to reach out to our students as frequently as possible. We’re available via phone and email. Every semester you’ll receive communication from us with registration information and textbook information, etc. And we try to check in and call you every semester as well just to see how you’re doing.

Camille:                                Thank you. And another question that we have is, with regards to the practicum option or how to get practicum experience in informatics. So the master’s program does offer a practicum and students who chose to do the practicum would actually chose a site in their area, so again no need to come to the Chicago campus, and you would do this practicum toward the end of your program and it’s a really wonderful way to garner experience in informatics, showcase your talent, network with individuals in the industry, and this is something that should you choose to do it, you can communicate that to your student advisor once you make that determination.

Joan Ziegler:                       Usually the practicum is in your last semester, it’s usually over 16 weeks, 10 weeks per week, again it’s in your area so you have a great opportunity to then turn that around to possibly a full time position. So I know that we’ve been successful, several of our students have found full time positions after they have done that practicum. So that’s a real good way to get some work experience in the field of informatics. Another question we have is, “How is health informatics different from nursing informatics?”.

Well our health informatics program will encompass nursing informatics but its gonna be much broader. So you’re gonna get exposure to pharmacy, medical, and clinical informatics as well, which we feels gives you a much more broader background as a nurse, rather than just going straight to a nursing informatics program. When you’re working in informatics, you’re not just working with nurses, you’re working with a variety of positions and backgrounds and as Eric was talking about communication skills, it’s very important to learn about the different communication styles for the different healthcare and IT professionals. So we will be covering nursing informatics, but again our program is health informatics.

Camille:                                And we have another question regarding how to fund the program. So that’s a really good question. Some students make opt to use financial aid and I know some people ask if they can use financial aid for the post master’s certificate, so you absolutely can apply for financial aid if that’s something that you qualify for. Some individuals may also use tuition assistance or may set up a payment plan option. So these are some really different ways that you can use to fund the program.

Another question is regarding the length of the program. So the master’s program is typically completed within two and a half years. However, you do have six years to complete it. So you can definitely customize your schedule a bit there if you have a busy workload or need to take a vacation. The post master’s certificate is an 18 month program and you have 3 years to complete that.

Okay, great. Also another question has to do with, “I’m from outside of the United States. Can I do this program and if I wanted to do the practicum, could I do that in my own country?”, and the answer is yes as long as you have a computer and as long as you are able to be online and do the assignments that Eric showed you, for example, you’ll be able to be in our program. We can set up the practicum in another country with you if you need to, if you’d like to do that as well.

Another question is, “How old is this program?”. The program actually started in 1990s. So our program is one of the oldest in the country. It’s over 20 years old and so it was brought online about 8 years ago and that’s why we have so many students because it is available to anybody whether we’re here in the United States or outside the United States to do the program. So right now we do have over 400 students in our program.

Okay, and another question is regarding computer science [inaudible 00:34:04] programming background, if you would need to take some refresher courses in computer science or programming before starting the program. Actually IT, or computer science, or either a programming background is not required to be successful in the program.

The program is designed to really teach you everything you know as it relates to health informatics. It’s really wonderful program. Again any prerequisites that might be needed, you won’t necessarily need a programming or computer science prerequisite, but if you needed any type of background knowledge on the medical terminology or anything like that, those will be determined based on the materials you submit when you apply and the admissions committee would actually recommend those classes for you to start. So you’ll definitely get all the assistance in education you need to be successful.

Eric, we have a question for you. One of the listeners is asking, “Can you comment on the overall value of this type of degree or certificate in the current healthcare environment?”.

Well, you know I haven’t run an economics analysis of it but what I can say is that in general healthcare’s a really, really good bet. And you have to look at where healthcare institutions are spending their money and this is one of the places that there are. And there’s also a move and has been for the last decade or so, I believe since George W. Bush, you know, really made the first real big push for these electronic health records with subsidies that there’s move for efficiency and cost savings.

And these are not traditional medical values. These are not hypocrite values, these are business values. This is the modern reality of a system that is opening up to more and more people, certainly if we don’t have Affordable Care Act replied, we’re gonna have a lot of people entering the system. I try to think of what my children, what their health records are gonna look like when they’re septuagenarians. I can’t imagine how the multitude of information that’s gonna be in their records. I don’t have any of my health records from my pediatrician. They’re gonna have everything in their health record.

And so, the needs are growing. And the needs are gonna grow exponentially as people start to enter the system. There’s also the sense to me that this is not over yet. There’s been a lot implementation but we’re not close to there yet. And more over interoperability within systems and then between systems, let alone between states or counties within states. It’s atrocious. The state of interoperability is not very good. And so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

I would not say the same for people who wanted to go to law school. Part of the reason why I don’t teach in a law school, frankly, I don’t think it’s a very, very good bet right now to graduate with a law degree. It’s hard to find a job in informatics, depending on somebody’s skills, of course it always depends on the skill not just the letters after your name. The person matters too. But depending on what the skillset is, and being in the right place in the right time, of course that matters. There’s ample opportunity here. This is where things are going in healthcare. I think that’s not too bold of statement.

Okay, great. And I would like to also mention that we’ve had done some research and read a lot of articles about a shortage of workers in this field. And that the field is projected to grow about 20 percent over the next 5 years versus half of that for the rest of the economy. So as Eric said, this field really has a bright future. We have also … if you contact your enrollment advisor, found surveys that HIMSS has done. HIMSS is the trade association for informatics.

Eric mentioned HIMSS is coming to Chicago in April. It’s a huge organization. They have 40 thousand people come to their convention. They’ll have a thousand exhibitors attend and on their website, they have a tremendous careers section. You will see jobs listed on their website and they have done a survey specifically for nurses. Their survey for nurses shows that nurses who have a master’s in informatics are making 18 percent more than those without that. A recent survey that they did said that 4 out of 5, 80 percent, of health organization respondents are planning to hire additional IT staff in the next year.

So the future is tremendously, you know, bright for health informatics.

Yeah, I agree and one other thing that I forgot to mention that one of the I guess kind of an anecdote to that, to the need for more informaticians. There’s also a glut because right now, there are a lot of people with DMS in this discipline, but there aren’t a lot of people terminal degrees. The terminal degrees have been in public health, or they have been in law, or they’ve been people with terminal nursing or medical degrees in informatics.

But there’s the change now is to develop PhD programs, and we have one that was just approved within the last month here on campus and so, we’re gonna have a PhD program here, which is very, very important. Because this is where new knowledge and breakthroughs will be happening, it’s not … a lot of it now comes from Oregon because they have a very, very good research department, but we have something different. We were training people in a much different way here.

We’re trying to train people with practical skills, and what we’d like to do is inform them with the cutting edge knowledge and research.

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Fantastic. And we do have a research track, so if you’re interested, again, that’s something that your student advisor can talk with you about, or your advisor can talk to you about as far as that as an option.

One other thing I wanted to mention about jobs is we actually surveyed our graduates. So we asked about 200 graduates what their experience was with the program, and what they were doing for work. And those that responded, 100 percent of them, are currently employed in informatics, and 64 percent of them said that did receive a salary increase. And we can send that survey to you as well. The types of jobs that they said that hold include Director of Clinical Operations, Senior Technical Consultant, Manager of Pharmacy and Informatics Specialist, Director of Client Programs, Director of Clinical Informatics, Chief Medical Information Officer, Informatics Nurse Specialist, the list goes on and on.

So again, we can send that to you, but that’s pretty telling that our graduates, all of them are finding jobs in informatics with those that responded to our survey.

Eric, you mentioned the PhD program, we do have a question about that. Can you tell us a little bit more about the plans for that program?

Well, what I can tell you is that it was just approved. It was approved by our faculty, the college, and then the university. It just went through there. I’m on the university committee that looks at new programs. It’s going to the senate this afternoon, actually. So the senate will be voting on it, I’ll be at that meeting so it will be a very happy time for us. The faculty here are very enthusiastic, particularly our tenure track research faculty because it means there’ll be more PhD students and we’ll have some post docs here, and we could really start to … we can start to continue to make inroads that we’ve already made and expand upon those in the areas of research that Dr. Boyd, and Dr. Valenta have been doing. And we’re all very, very excited about it. I’m myself am excited because I’m gonna have new students to be in front off and teach at a different level, frankly.

‘m looking forward to dissertation level work that helps not only to expand the breath of it, but really the depth of it. And that’s really what the benefit is gonna be. We have outstanding teaching faculty here. I have yet to come across another group of people that are as giving intellectually, and that’s one of the things that I love about working here. This is the best job I’ve ever had. I couldn’t be happier in my work. But I could always go into a colleague’s office and try to have a conversation just to try to think of things in a new way.

And the PhD program will allow for more of that. Because that’s what PhD students are working on. They’re creating research and thesis that are trying to further knowledge. Address gaps in the knowledge and that is exactly where I as a faculty member wanna be. I don’t wanna be teaching out of somebody else’s book. That’s all very well and good, and I do use a lot of other people’s books, but I would rather be teaching them about what Dr. Boyd is doing down the hall. And what the ethical implications of that groundbreaking work are. That’s how change happens. And I wanna be part of that. We’re looking forward to students wanting to be part of that too.

Fantastic. Another question for you Eric, you’d mentioned a little bit earlier about a lot of these implementations already being complete in a lot of organizations, so what are some trends that you’re seeing now and how is our program addressing those trends moving into the future?

Well, you know I kinda touched on that a little bit. There have been some … there have been quite a few, certainly since the Meaningful Use Incentive Program was initiated once the money started flowing back, the implementations really started to uptick. But as I also mentioned, there are major problems with interoperability. While there are implementations of new systems, there are systems currently in existence that have to speak with or transfer data or information in one way or and over, or other to a new system and they’re also state reporting requirements, we don’t have too many federal reporting requirements yet but one can per see if there’s going to be a national database. Certainly a national network of health information. There’s gonna have to be some rules and protocols in place at some point. And we’re nowhere close to achieving that. We have a long way to go with in regard to interoperability.

And so what we’re doing to address that is looking at the problems within classes that deal with those issues. In my classes I confront this directly from an ethical perspective. Dr. Boyd is an example, Andy Boyd, who is a physician, former mathematician, he looks at problems between the ICD-9 and ICD-10 conversion. And looking at how information doesn’t necessarily transfer from one system to another one. And while that’s not exactly an interoperability problem … well, it kinda is, it’s not a systems problem, it’s a language problem. It’s a semantics problem. And so it may not be the systems or the code, it could be the language that those systems or codes are supposed to be utilizing. And ICD-10 and the [trans-fer-ized 00:46:16] ICD-10 is one of the examples of those problems that we have researchers looking at those problems now in publishing. He’s published in all manner of journals from The Amia Journal to Pediatrics recently. You can read about it. You can see what the trends are and you can see who are making discoveries there and part of it is happening here.

Excellent. And I’d like to mention too to potential students that the data aspect of their health records is becoming very big, and so not only are you now implementing but you’re using the data in those systems for you know, big decisions. Having to do with better patient outcomes, quality measures, also for paper performance, all that’s coming from the data that’s in the systems. And our program will be, you know, touching on that because we do focus on applied learning. What you’re learning in our program, we want you to be able to use on a daily basis.

Another question has to do with financial aid. Is that available for both programs? And Camille?

Yes, so I think another person asked particularly about the post master certificate. So yes, you can use financial aid for both programs including the post master certificate, and you can actually apply for financial aid at any time. And if you have additional questions, you can certainly reach out to one of us and we can discuss your situation in particular.

There was another question regarding being able to do the practicum in a different state outside of Chicago, so what type of assistance do we offer in helping students find a location in their area. So I’ll pass this one over to Rosanna.

Thank you. So when we talk to students and they’re interested in doing the practicum, there’s information that we send them, forms that they need to fill out prior to setting up their practicum. They work directly with the graduate school to set this up and if they’re outside of Chicago they do have some resources to help you set up practicum in your state. So we discuss that more when we talk on an individual basis and it does take about 6 to 8 months to get set up, which is why we encourage you take it within your last semester at UIC.

Another question has to do with prerequisite courses. Camille, you wanna talk about that?

Okay so, with prerequisites, after you apply to the program, the admissions committee will look at your background in education and determine which prerequisites you may need. If any prerequisites are recommended for you, these will be the first ones that you’ll take as a part of the program. So it doesn’t matter if you study internationally or here in the US, you know, the prerequisites will be based primarily on your experience and background.

There is another questions which regards to having … not having experience informatics or in healthcare. Again, experience is not required in informatics or in healthcare for you to be considered to the program. You know, we have a variety of backgrounds. Most of our students do have a clinical background, but we do have people with a business or finance background. So again, if you have questions regarding your particular situation, I really encourage you to reach out to one of us. But as a general rule, you would be considered for the program as long as you have that regionally accredited bachelor’s degree, and at least a 3.0 GPA.

Another question has to do with the elective courses. As we were talking the practicum is one of the electives. You actually get to choose 3 electives. You don’t have to do the practicum, that’s just one of your options. But I wanted to point out some interesting classes that you have to option to take including healthcare information security, mobile health informatics, consumer health informatics, knowledge management and healthcare organizations, healthcare IT administration, healthcare program management. So those are some of the many electives you get to choose from at the end of the program.

So there’s gonna be 3 courses that you can choose from a long list, and our electives are always being modified and updated with what’s going on in the industry as well, so. That’s another really great thing about our program. Eric, since you teach ethical and legal issues, what current ethical and legal issues are you finding related to health informatics right now in the industry?

Well, they never stop. Currently then in the past we’ve seen lots of issues with privacy. Just yesterday I just tweeted, I have a not so active twitter account but I do try to get to it. There was a cyber attack on Premera Blue Cross, and the data of about 11 million people was exposed. But that’s 11 million people, that’s not even 11 million records. For the records are probably much more than that. That’s humongous. And so privacy and security remains a humongous problem. And every time I see this, I wonder how is the financial industry doing so much better than healthcare and it’s staggering [inaudible 00:51:32]. And that’s really whether there’s so much more value there, but somehow the financial sector is much better about it and perhaps it has to do with having more skin in the game. Because if they lose people’s money, well then they lose their own money. It’s not quite the same thing with health records.

But there are also issues with communication. In particular health literacy and access to information. Also communication between providers and their ability to coordinate care as usability of systems lags behind it’s billing and administrative processes. This is an issue that I am writing about now about the use of data really to enhance a business ethic within healthcare. Something that Arnold Rellman, a physician back in the 80s talked about the medical industrial complex and what I and colleagues are writing about now is really the use of health information technology as a tool to further that industrial complex altogether. If you look at the implementation, the implementation statistics since the 60s and 70s, you’ll see that the focus has been more on billing and administrative backend work than it has been on clinical effectiveness of these systems. And that continues to be a problem.

So and also use of social media, something I’ve published and talked quite a bit on. There’s a problem with the information that’s out there, the clinician’s and student’s use of social media. And it creates problems within the provider patient relationship. As does the physicality of a computer in the exam room, becomes a barrier with the relationship between a provider and patient. Those the types of things that I look at as a informatics ethicist.

Awesome. Okay another question has to do with AHIMA. AHIMA  is the organization for health information management. And the question is with AHIMA being headquartered in Chicago, how much of any cost affiliation is involved?

Well, we also offer a health information management program and AHIMA, again, that’s what that organization’s about. So we have a tremendous relationship with AHIMA. Some of our faculty are heavily involved with trainings with ICD-10, and one of them just won an award actually ahem for a textbook she wrote about ICD-10. So we’re very involved with AHIMA. That is an organization, again, if you’re looking to get your RHIA, we can talk with you more about that and that’s our post bachelorette certificate in health information management if you have an associate’s degree already. And at a bachelor’s we do have a completion program with a bachelor’s as well. So we can talk with you more about that if you have an interest.

Yeah, just to add to that, you can’t understate what Terry Jorwick has done. She really has written the seminal work on ICD-9 and ICD-10, and her books are the ones that AHIMA endorses. You’ll see her name on those books. She’s written them all. And so she’s really quite amazing. And then I’m not sure the program director for HIM is a fellow or a former fellow of ahem. Certainly our faculty in the HIM program are very involved with AHIMA, particularly because of here. And our HIM students benefit from that specifically where there are AHIMA events because they get to participate in them.

Thank you. So there was another question regarding an international student and if a student visa is required. So actually, no. No visas are required, we actually have a very large international body, so certainly reach out to one of us but it’s really helpful knowing that’s that not one thing that you have to to get to be considered to the program.

Another question deals with how many credits does a full time employee in informatics take per term to be successful. So our students take two classes per semester. So as far as credit hours that could range anywhere from 1 to 4 credits hours per class. But you’ll take one class, again, for an 8 week period and another class for another 8 weeks. The only time you’ll have an overlap is during the summer semester. If it really makes it easy for the working professional to balance school.

As far as study time, which is time related to anything dealing with the program where there’s a discussion post or writing a paper, you’re looking at between 20 to 30 hours per week. That’s what we’ve seen the successful students dedicate to the program. And the discussion posts, you can do that during a lunch break or something like that, so it’s quite attainable.

And we have time for one more question. And that is why choose UIC health informatics program. And we have several things that we’d like to share with you about that question. First of all, we did mention the CAHIIM accreditation. That we are the first program that was accredited by CAHIIM, and again, the only one that is a hundred percent online out of those that are accredited currently.

We’re also one of the oldest programs, we have over 20 years of experience teaching. So we know how you can benefit from our program with have such a program that’s tried and true. And it’s 100 percent online. So it’s very convenient and flexible for working professionals.

Also we are one of the largest programs with over 400 students. And we talked about the importance of networking, you have that option to network and when you’re in an online program, the other students in your program can either make it or break it. So again, having such a diverse group of students in our program, many working in informatics can help you as you go forward in your career with networking opportunities.

Also University of Illinois in Chicago is part of the university’s focus on healthcare. I’m not sure if you’re … you realize but we have the largest medical school and we also have all the other health sciences including nursing, pharmacy, public health, dentistry, physical therapy and so on.

And then Eric talked about faculty. Our faculty work in the industry and they teach. So they’ve got practical hands on experience. They’re actually chosen for the courses that they teach. Not anybody can teach any course that they teach based on their expertise.

And then the last thing is that our program’s interdisciplinary. It’s applied learning and you can gain transferable skills within our program. So those are some reasons that we’d like to talk about why you’d wanna choose our program.

If we haven’t answered your question, we will be reaching out to you. We really appreciate your time. And Eric, we wanna thank you for such a great presentation today. Really giving us a firsthand glimpse of what it would be like to be a student and seeing, you know, what they’d be going into in Blackboard and just giving us your whole perspective about the program and, you know, the classes that you teach. I think we really got a great idea, I hope that our listeners feel that way as well. And again, we’ll be reaching out to you if you have any further questions. We do wanna encourage you if you’re interested in our program to contact your enrollment advisor. Again, thanks for your time today.