Imaging informatics professionals in New Zealand healthcare
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2357
This study investigated the Imaging Informatics Professionals in New Zealand Healthcare. It is a qualitative study which examined who is currently performing this role while analysing their experience, background and educational qualifications to do so. In addition it also examined the continuing professional development of these individuals and what are the current and projected functions of this role both internationally and in New Zealand. This emerging/evolving role originated from the expansion of Diagnostic Imaging into the world of digital imaging and its further progression into the realm of medical informatics. It has grown from that of a Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) and or Radiology Information System (RIS) support person to its current position with the greater integration of electronic patient records for all forms of digital imaging and reports. New Zealand Healthcare has a goal of an easily accessible electronic patient record by the end of 2014 and is progressing to this end. With the boom in the amount of data generated by current information and imaging systems, it follows, therefore, that the role of the Imaging Informatics Professional (IIP) has to grow to support these systems and assist in attaining that goal. Additionally they must provide enhanced, efficient, secure and functional care for the patients and end user clinicians while maintaining these features in the respective departments that contribute the data. This research has demonstrated there is a diverse group of individuals undertaking this role to varying levels across the District Health Boards of New Zealand. The lack of availability of formal training and post graduate courses has been overwhelmingly demonstrated and may well be a contributing factor to the lack of published New Zealand literature. Most of the individuals surveyed have learned what they know from their vendor(s) and on the job. Many feel that the biggest issues are in not knowing what they don’t know and therefore not having a full understanding of the Imaging Informatics field. Whilst there are some on-line courses offered predominantly from the United States and Canada, training programs are almost non-existent in Australasia. As most respondents indicated their desire to do some form of additional training if it was provided, lack of accessibility to local training only serves to compound the issue. Of those surveyed and interviewed, only one (1) has obtained any formal certification in PACS administration. Today the two (2) available certifications are provided by professional organisations located outside of Australasia and not from recognised educational institutions. Both of these certifications are by examination only. Only one of the two organisations that offer these examinations is currently available on-line in New Zealand at the participant’s leisure. The other can only currently be sat in an approved supervised location (the closest is in Australia) in pre-defined semi-annual sittings. The numbers of IIP’s in New Zealand healthcare is very small and may well not justify a formal education or regulatory body. However, most feel there is a need for some education, regulation and recognition of what they overwhelmingly agree is a unique advanced practice role, and one which they and the literature, recognise as a very critical component of the patient care chain. It is clear that the field of Imaging Informatics will only grow in the foreseeable future in order to provide the support services that are required to maintain a best practice environment for New Zealand. It follows, therefore, that there is a need for both education and regulation of the IIP’s in New Zealand. In addition, the global nature of today’s health care industry may well demand that the education, standards and regulations, conforms not only to that of our Asia-Pacific neighbours, but also those of the international leaders in the field.