AHRQ Publication Provides Foundation for Health Informatics Curriculum

Comparative Effectiveness
December 2012

AHRQ's publication, "Registries for Evaluating Patient Outcomes: A User's Guide," is being used by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to develop an extensive health informatics training program that prepares Ohio high school students seeking a career in the field.

The curriculum is part of the "Preparation for Tomorrow" project, an educational initiative launched by the 16-State SREB consortium a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta and other partnering States, such as Ohio. The goal of the project is to develop and implement challenging career and technical courses designed to improve student achievement and graduation rates and increase college and career readiness. AHRQ's publication is being used to develop the curriculum of one of the health informatics foundation courses, "Data Access, Storage, and Distribution."

Gene Bottoms, SREB Senior Vice President, says, "Our goal is to introduce students to a career field, such as health informatics, that will motivate their interest to learn essential math, science, literacy, and technical content and skills; how to use technology necessary to complete course projects; and to open them to potential career opportunities where they can find the appropriate niche for themselves."

Each State participating in the SREB consortium is designing a sequence of rigorous courses in a high-demand, high-wage field important to its economy. These training programs encourage students to pursue options such as entry-level jobs, advanced training, industry certification, 2- and 4-year degrees, and advanced degrees.

The Ohio Association of Career-Technical Superintendents and SREB are jointly developing the health informatics curriculum for Ohio. Industry experts as well as secondary and postsecondary teachers developed the curriculum, which was field-tested with approximately 100 Ohio students for the 2012-2013 school year. The curriculum includes health-related scenarios requiring rigorous application by students in public health data mining, disaster preparedness management, e-prescribing, and technical writing.

Saralyn Richard, chief writer for the project, says, "I want you to know how helpful AHRQ's information has been in formulating and revising this initiative. I read the AHRQ newsletters cover to cover for ideas for future projects too."

Initially, the health informatics course will be taught in Ohio's Secondary Career and Technical Education Centers. In the future, it is expected to be taught to students in SREB consortium States and beyond.

Patient registries are databases that collect information about specific diseases, outcomes, and other characteristics of the population being studied. Registries are a common feature of health informatics, a discipline in which health care and computer technology merge to create systems that store clinical guidelines, medical terminologies, and other health care information.

"Registries for Evaluating Patient Outcomes: A User's Guide" is available at http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?pageaction=displayproduct&productID=11.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Effective Health Care Program
Topics(s): Academic Curricula
Geographic Location: Ohio
Implementer: Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
Date: 12/01/2012
Page last reviewed December 2012