Physician informaticists in Finland 2019 – their job description and education
Keywords:Professional competence, Medical informatics, Clinical informatics, telemedicine [http://www.yso.fi/onto/yso/p20333], eHealth, medical doctors [http://www.yso.fi/onto/yso/p6182]
A physician informaticist conducts tasks relating to healthcare informatics as a part of his or her job description. Sound clinical knowledge, extensive work experience, and structured training form a solid basis for the comprehensive competencies required from a healthcare informatics physician. Since 2012, physicians have been able to acquire a special competence in healthcare information technology granted by the Finnish Medical Association. Nowadays, dentists and veterinarians are also able to apply for the programme. In recent years, the demand for professionals that have completed the special competence training programme, as well as the need for training in the field, has increased. The rise in demand is driven especially by large information system projects and rapidly developing IT systems. Nevertheless, both domestic and international research into the role and experiences of healthcare informatics physicians is scarce.
The purpose of the questionnaire survey conducted in spring 2019 was to map the status of physician informaticists’ training, work activities, and working environment, as well as the experiences and development needs relating to the special competence training programme. The target group consisted of physicians that have completed the special competence training programme, those enrolled on the programme, as well as doctors and dentists already working as physician informaticists.
The respondents (n=90, 54% of the target group) consisted of 27 doctors and dentists already carrying out the duties of physician informaticists and 59 physicians that have completed the programme. The main finding of the study was that compared to the study conducted in 2014, the need for physician informaticists is more widely recognised in healthcare organisations and that their role is more clearly defined. Work assignments were more weighted towards the development of information systems and information management and there were increased working hours made available for these tasks. Employers demonstrated a positive attitude towards external training. The special competence was considered professionally beneficial and as positive leverage in the development of information systems, all the while having minimal impact on the terms of employment. The special competence training was seen in a positive light but there was a call for a more structured framework of the programme.
Clinical experience, extensive employment history, and special competence training form a stable foundation for the comprehensive proficiency required to carry out the duties of a physician informaticist. The digitalisation of healthcare systems has created an increasing demand for healthcare informatics physicians.
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