CINCINNATI—Managing health information—like medical records, trends or drug recall information—is crucial to improving patient care and lowering health care costs.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deemed this to be the “decade of health information,” and says that harnessing health information technology could reduce health care costs by up to 20 percent each year.
The University of Cincinnati (UC) has created a center to bring together health informatics experts from around UC and from community organizations with the goal of addressing issues in clinical practice, clinical research and public health.
The new Center for Health Informatics—supported by the College of Medicine and the Institute for the Study of Health—will serve as a hub for experts as they conduct research and solve health-information challenges affecting our region and the country.
“Right now, there’s no one place for many of our informatics experts to call home,” says Peter Embi, MD, MS, assistant professor and director of the Center for Health Informatics. “The center will help to pool our people and resources together into a collaborative unit.”
And because the center is affiliated with hospitals and health care organizations around the region, Embi says its experts will have access to real-world settings for gathering data and testing informatics innovations.
Many health informatics projects already under way at UC and affiliated organizations will benefit from the creation of this center.
Earlier this year, Embi led a team of researchers who developed a system that alerts consumers to Food and Drug Administration drug withdrawals.
He has also worked to design a system within electronic health records for alerting physicians to clinical trials that might be relevant to their patients.
Other center members have developed innovative approaches that improve the treatment of patients with complex chronic diseases by helping patients and their physicians make decisions about medical treatments at the point of care.
These systems, Embi says, are examples of how health informatics can be used to improve the quality and safety of patient care and advance medical science.
But the center will offer more than research and service opportunities. UC’s master’s program in clinical research—housed in the environmental health department—now has an informatics track taught by members of the new center. Embi says that plans are also under way to develop other health informatics educational programs.
For more information about the center, visit http://www.uc.edu/chi/.