ChristianaCare is among an elite group of only 40 health care organizations nationwide to offer a Clinical Informatics Fellowship, and the first in the Delaware Valley to make the leap to adopt this innovative area of training.
Clinical informatics is a growing specialty centered on the study of how information technology can be applied to health care. Today, clinical informatics is figuring more prominently in health care delivery, providing an information-based approach that uses carefully collected data to guide health care providers on the best treatments for patients.
“This is something we’ve wanted to offer at ChristianaCare for quite some time,” said Terri Steinberg, M.D., who is program director of the new fellowship, chief health information officer and vice president of Population Health Informatics at ChristianaCare.
“We have the innovative minds, the technological know-how and the strategic partnerships to make it happen,” she said.
Those who study informatics—called informaticists— can work at hospitals, in industry or in government. By 2022, clinical informatics board certification will require fellowship training.
“Most of the other hospitals with clinical informatics fellowships are academic medical centers,” Dr. Steinberg said. “Our place among these institutions attests to the commitment and resources here at ChristianaCare. We are punching at a different weight.”
Meet the first Clinical Informatics Fellow
Anna Nadhan, M.D., was selected was the first Clinical Informatics Fellow at ChristianaCare. A pediatrician from California, she has had an aptitude and growing interest in technology through the years.
“I always loved technology,” said Dr. Nadhan. “In fact, my family always called me when they needed tech support help.” In college, however, she put that interest aside in favor of studying medicine.
Then she met her first patient.
“My very first patient as a medical student had 19 discrete problems and I had to write each one out in the notes individually,” she said. “This was very time-consuming and I realized there had to be a better way.”
She was working at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and connected with its chief medical information officer Paul Fu, Jr., M.D., MPH, as a mentor. He told her about the Clinical Informatics Fellowship at ChristianaCare, she said.
“This opportunity was the perfect choice for me, addressing the intersection of medicine and technology, and will provide me with a rewarding career combining my two lifelong passions,” she said.
“What we offer here is distinctive,” Dr. Steinberg said. “We have great systems in place, programs in analytics and machine learning, well-trained faculty and our Value Institute. We have invested in a great program for clinical informaticists.”
Dr. Nadhan earned her medical degree from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2017 and completed her residency in Pediatrics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Nadhan as our inaugural fellow. She is a talented physician with the drive to incorporate technology into strategies for optimal health,” Dr. Steinberg said. The program will recruit every year and will have two fellows at a time.
“Our Clinical Informatics fellows will be important resources who can implement systems and projects that advance improved patient outcomes.”
Achieving innovation by serving together
Building the program took teamwork across ChristianaCare. Leading the charge with Dr. Steinberg were Associate Chief Academic Officer Brian Levine, M.D.; LeRoi Hicks, M.D., MPH, the Hugh R. Sharp Jr. Chair of Medicine and physician lead of ChristianaCare’s research-focused Value Institute; and John Donnelley, M.D., director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, which will be the home program for the fellows.
ChristianaCare’s application was deemed “excellent” and approved by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education. In order to qualify for the fellowship program residents can be from any one of 14 specialties.
The Internal Medicine training program, the Clinical Informatics’ fellowship academic home, is a Thomas Jefferson University program. The fellowship is sponsored by the Sidney Kimmel School of Medicine of Thomas Jefferson University, with the clinical campus at ChristianaCare.
ChristianaCare’s Chief People Officer Neil Jasani, M.D., who is also on the faculty at Jefferson, helped facilitate the partnership.
“This is a huge step forward for ChristianaCare,” Dr. Jasani said. “It will serve to positively impact the future of health care in the region.”
The program is supported by Medecision, an integrated health solutions software company that partners with leading health care organizations, which will underwrite and subsidize the program for the first two years, and will also offer an on-site senior-year rotation so that fellows can learn the software development process.
For more information on the Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program at ChristianaCare, contact Sharath Kharidi, M.D., at SKharidi@ChristianaCare.org.