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Medical Informatics Group Honors Hersh

National professional association confers one of its signature awards on the chairman of OHSU’s medical informatics and clinical epidemiology department for the impact of his work on informatics education worldwide

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has honored William Hersh, M.D., professor and chairman, Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE), Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, with its 2008 Donald A.B. Lindberg Award for Innovation in Informatics.

The award, named for the director of the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, is one of AMIA’s signature honors. This award is given each year in recognition of an individual who has made a specific technological, research, or educational contribution that advances biomedical informatics, the field concerned with the acquisition, storage and use of health care information.

Hersh was cited specifically for the “innovative and highly successful 10x10 program” that he developed at OHSU in collaboration with AMIA, which was the model for AMIA’s national 10x10 program. “10x10” refers to the program’s goal of training 10,000 health care professionals in applied health and biomedical and health informatics by the year 2010.
The 10x10 program is conducted in a wide range of settings across the country with key strategic partners in the informatics education community. Hersh’s work on 10x10 “has had a substantial impact on informatics education throughout the world,” said Paul Tang, M.D., chairman of the AMIA awards executive committee.

The genesis of the 10x10 program came from Charles Safran, M.D., former president of AMIA. Safran noted that there was inadequate informatics expertise in most clinical settings and called for there to be at least one physician and one nurse trained in informatics in each of the nation’s nearly 6,000 hospitals. Hersh was already teaching an on-line introductory course in the OHSU graduate program and believed it could be adapted to this audience. He came up with the 10x10 moniker and launched the first offering in the fall of 2005. Since then, nearly 600 people have completed the course, with almost 100 going on to further study in the OHSU graduate program.

The 10x10 program at OHSU is an on-line 11-week survey course designed to impart to clinicians, health care professionals and others information about electronic and personal health records, computer-based physician order entry systems, health information exchange, standards and terminology, and health care quality and error prevention. Students come together at the end of the course for an in-person session where they present projects, meet their new colleagues, and tie their newly acquired knowledge together. The course prepares students for IT work with hospitals and clinics, health product vendors, manufacturers, and universities. Graduates also can use it as a launching pad for further studies in OHSU’s graduate informatics program.

Hersh has also done research showing that as the U.S. healthcare system moves toward wider adoption of advanced information technology systems to control health care costs, reduce medical errors and improve patient care, it will need at least 40,000 additional health IT professionals – or almost 40 percent more than U.S. hospitals now are estimated to employ.

Hersh has provided leadership that has established OHSU as one of the nation’s leaders in biomedical informatics education and research. The program was founded in 1989, and in 2003 became one of the first departments of its kind in the world. It has also been a pioneer in offering distance-learning. DMICE offers master’s degree and Ph.D. programs in bioinformatics and medical informatics as well as graduate certificate courses in health information management. Hersh and his colleagues have developed new approaches to electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry, and access to online knowledge resources.

The study of biomedical informatics prepares people for careers that range from the development and management of health services and medical records systems to the sophisticated analyses of megasets of genomic research and clinical trials data that implement development and delivery of more effective treatments and drugs. Medical informatics emphasizes clinical and patient outcome applications and bioinformatics focuses on computational biology applications in biomedical research, particularly molecular biology.

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