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Health Information Technology: BS HIM alum credits degree to diverse knowledge and career trajectory

Learn more about UIC Adjunct Professor and HIM alum, Amar Patel, and his current work at a pharmaceutical corporation.

HIM faculty and alum Amar Patel smiles at camera

Graduating from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management (HIM) program in 2007, Amar Patel, MBA, credits his versatile career path to the knowledge and expertise in healthcare and business that he acquired through the HIM program.

Having recently relocated to Georgia with his family, Patel serves as the Associate Director of Health Information Technology for the Southeast region at Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical corporation. His current projects focus on collaborating with large healthcare systems on various population health initiatives. Previous to joining Novartis, Patel held various leadership positions at Allscripts Healthcare Solutions and Joint Commission Resources.

Patel also works as an adjunct professor at UIC. Teaching HIM 455: Health Information Systems Analysis and Design, Patel applies case-based learning to show students current system workflows so they can learn how to redesign processes and improve them. Learn more about Patel’s background, and how his HIM knowledge helped him become a leader in his field.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I graduated from UIC with a B.S. in Health Information Management in 2007. After school, I joined Allscripts Healthcare Solutions where I implemented electronic health records (EHR) for major hospitals transitioning from paper to electronic systems. I served as the clients’ liaison and expert throughout the entire post-sales EHR implementation process. I then held other leadership positions there for about 7 years.

I later joined Joint Commission Resources, where I led a team of customer success managers implementing software products with quality managers and patient safety officers at hospitals. After two years, I returned to Allscripts, leading a remote team of 20 implementation consultants until completing my MBA. Currently, I work at Novartis having secured the position through a UIC HIM program alum. As the Associate Director of Health Information Technology for the Southeast region, my role has most recently brought my family and me to Georgia.

It sounds like you’ve done a lot of networking throughout your career. How did the Health Information Management (HIM) program at UIC help you do that?

The talent pool and networking through the HIM program have been phenomenal. Whenever I was hiring, the first place I’d always start is the UIC Applied Health Sciences Alumni LinkedIn group, which HIM students gain access to when enrolling in the program. I knew that any applicant that graduated from UIC’s HIM program would do a great job. I recruited two HIM alums at Joint Commission Resources, confident in their education. Despite graduating from the UIC HIM program in different years, I connected with my current boss on LinkedIn. I saw she had posted that they were hiring at Novartis, and the rest is history.

What specific factors led you to choose the HIM degree program at UIC?

My parents being Indian immigrants pushed me to be a doctor or a pharmacist. Although I was interested in healthcare, I just didn’t see that for myself. I was more interested in the business aspect of it. After talking to my UIC advisors, I felt like the B.S. in HIM program was the perfect hybrid. Although I’ve never had a traditional HIM career, I learned some great tactical HIM skillsets and it helped me become a generalist, plus I learned a lot about business processes and data infrastructure. I developed a skillset that would help me find a career almost anywhere.

How do you apply the skillsets you learned in the HIM program into your career?

Since I’ve became a generalist, my HIM degree has helped me understand some of the nuances in healthcare. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to interpret what healthcare professionals want and need. At Allscripts when I was implementing EHRs, we would run into situations where we were trying to accommodate a paper workflow electronically and you’re sitting at a table with a doctor or a nurse or someone from medical records or billing, and I was able to talk through a lot of the nuances. I was able to understand the medical terminology and what pieces they were interested in.

My B.S. in HIM degree gave me that upper edge that some of the other consultants at Allscripts didn’t have. We were all fresh out of college and my HIM knowledge gave me that level of confidence walking into a meeting with a doctor or a hospital administrator.

What course do you teach in UIC’s online Health Information Management program?

I’ve been working as an adjunct professor in the online UIC HIM program since spring 2021. I started teaching a bachelor’s course, but this year I’m teaching a graduate level course, HIM 455: Health Information Systems Analysis and Design. I teach students the fundamentals and tools of systems analysis and design, as well as the system development life cycle. It’s a case-based type class. Students go through exercises and look at current state workflows and learn how to redesign processes, as well as understand EHR systems and the technology that surrounds them. I use real-life examples to help students understand what they’ll come across in the real world. Since I’m in the industry, I also offer my students help with their resume, interview prep, and recommendation letters. I want to help my students succeed.

Can you tell us about an exciting project you’re currently working on?

A lot of the work I’m currently working on is related to cardiovascular health and overall population health. For instance, we have a lipid lowering therapy drug. It’s a twice a year injection and has a high efficacy. I’m working with a health system in Georgia to help figure out where they can include this drug in a patient’s therapy that maybe recently had a heart attack, or a stroke that’s in for a cardiovascular procedure. I’m working with organizations to understand how they can improve patient care and reduce readmissions.

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