Nation's first accredited clinical informatics fellowship launched

A newly accredited clinical informatics program physicians to be certified in the subspeciality, which became board-eligible in 2011.

Christopher Longhurst

A clinical informatics fellowship program at Stanford Medicine is the first in the country to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Physicians who complete the fellowship program can be certified in the subspecialty, which became a recognized subspecialty in 2011 and granted its first board certifications in 2013. 

Beginning in 2018, the American Board of Medical Specialties will require physicians to complete a council-accredited fellowship to be eligible for certification in clinical informatics. The council is a nonprofit, private council that evaluates and accredits medical residency and fellowship programs.

“This accreditation recognizes that our program meets the new national standards in the field of clinical informatics,” said pediatrician Christopher Longhurst, MD, MS, fellowship director, chief medical information officer for Stanford Children’s Health and clinical associate professor of pediatrics and of medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine. “We are the first because of our long history of biomedical informatics, our breadth of experience and our program’s high level of collaboration among physicians and researchers in numerous specialties.”

Clinical informatics is the application of information technology and knowledge-management protocols to prevent disease, deliver more efficient patient care, streamline applications in translational research and improve access to biomedical data. The specialty promotes the understanding, integration and application of information technology to ensure clinical objectives and industry best practices.

Four positions are available in the two-year fellowship program, which received accreditation on July 15. The first two fellows for 2014-16 are Lance Downing, MD, an internal medicine specialist, and pediatrician Veena Goel, MD. Downing is helping Christopher Sharp, MD, chief medical information officer and fellowship site director for Stanford Health Care and clinical associate professor of medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, and others to develop a program to identify early signs of severe sepsis; Goel is helping Paul Sharek, MD, MPH, medical director of quality management and associate professor of pediatrics at the Stanford School of Medicine, to develop new tools and processes to mitigate “bedside-alarm” fatigue.

Fellows will divide their time between informatics projects, coursework and clinical practice in their primary specialty. The Department of Information Services at Stanford Children’s Health will be the primary training site, with rotations offered at Stanford Health Care, Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and HP Labs.

The leadership team, which included the program’s two associate fellowship directors — Natalie Pageler, MD, MEd, clinical assistant professor of pediatric critical care at the Stanford School of Medicine; and Jonathan Palma, MD, MS, clinical assistant professor of neonatology at the School of Medicine — spent more than 100 hours developing the application for council accreditation. The team decided to make the final version available to other institutions interested in accreditation. Thus far, more than 20 academic medical centers have downloaded the material.

“This fellowship represents the formal recognition of a major change in medicine, one that merges best-practice clinical training with advanced information technology and analytical expertise,” said Ed Kopetsky, chief information officer at Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. “Clinicians with a strong knowledge of clinical informatics and analytics will not only play a key role in optimizing workflow, but will help us understand more about disease and optimal care methods. In the end, this means better health-care decisions.”

Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, commended Longhurst and the other members of the team for ensuring that Stanford Medicine is at the forefront of the clinical informatics field. “The future of health care increasingly depends on having physicians who are skilled at using data to find new and better ways of treating patients, and we at Stanford are pleased to be playing a leading role in providing this essential training,” Minor said.

For more information on the fellowship at Stanford Medicine, please see http://cifellowship.stanford.edu



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