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USF Health adapts with changing field


Effective since the beginning of the year, health care providers across the country must now show “meaningful use” of their electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) technology, intended to improve coordination between doctors and practices to ensure patients receive effective treatment.

Failure to do so may disrupt the reimbursement levels they receive from Medicare and Medicaid. 

A new 32 credit-hour USF program is designed to help medical professionals keep up with the changing technology in a new field of study – health informatics. 

This policy to use more EMRs and EHRs was a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and went into effect at the beginning of this year. 

Aimed at improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of compiling patient records, as well as reducing health disparities, the field of health informatics is in high demand as new jobs, such as nursing informatics specialists, electronic medical record keepers, consultants, IT managers and medical information officers will be needed.

USF Morsani College of Medicine is currently the only medical school in the country that offers online graduate programs in health informatics. 

The College of Medicine has two programs geared toward establishing careers in this field: the Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics and the Master’s of Science in Health Informatics. 

The new programs are gaining attention from USF students.

Aladdin Hiba, a prospective medical school student, said medical students would be interested in additional classes teaching the usage of EMR and EHR technologies.

“It would be beneficial to earn a certificate in this training,” he said. 

Thinking ahead to starting his own practice in the future, Hiba said he would like to get an upper hand in medical technology training.

“It would facilitate your ability to use EMR and make sure that you are ready to go from the start of your medical career, and you can save on hiring other people to run such things,” he said. 

Daniel Farina, an undergraduate nursing student, said he sees the new changes as an opportunity to acclimate to the new health care requirements. 

“The earlier you are able to receive training and exposure to the new technology that is being mandated, the more of an upper hand you will have when diving into the health care field,” he said.