Public Release: 

Health informatics partnership is launched to expand informatics work force, improve health globally

Collaborative center to support knowledge transfer to low-resource partners

American Medical Informatics Association

AMIA, the U.S.-based association for informatics professionals, has launched a non-profit, wholly owned subsidiary organization called the Global Health Informatics Partnership (GHIP) to serve as an international center for collaborative initiatives on health informatics. With generous operational support from AMIA, GHIP (say "gee-hip"), aims to build grassroots networks of health informatics advocates and professionals that will result in strengthened health informatics capacity in low-resource settings, primarily in South America, Africa, and Asia.

Through talks, workshops, published literature, training tools, and other mechanisms designed to support widespread use of health information and communication technology, GHIP has begun to catalyze collaborative relationships among institutions, which are expected in turn to mentor newer partners and share information that leads to enhanced quality, safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care. All GHIP activities will conform to open standards, open content, and open-access principles and practices, and are guided by established informatics principles. Informatics is the science of how to use data, information, and knowledge to improve both human health and the delivery of healthcare services.

Robert Mayes has been appointed Executive Director of GHIP. In his previous position, Mayes served as a senior advisor on health information technology issues at the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Information Technology Program, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of research on health IT and its role in improving quality and safety. His recent work focused on mobile technologies and the role of social networks in health care.

"During his long career in the U.S. Public Health Service, Bob Mayes developed expertise working on a wide variety of health informatics topics," says AMIA President & CEO Edward H. Shortliffe, MD. "Bob's experience--working in underserved areas, as senior health informatics advisor to the CDC Global AIDS Program and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and as an onsite expert providing technical assistance to Health Ministries during his six-plus years living in Africa--has resulted in his eminent knowledge and visionary stance on global health informatics." Mayes is also a registered nurse with clinical experience in both acute care and community nursing. He holds degrees in anthropology, nursing, and nursing informatics.

GHIP fills a need expressed by many international health organizations for a partner forum, platform, or program in which to share experiential knowledge and best practices. GHIP enables the global community of health informatics professionals and practitioners to share expertise in health information systems and tools, informatics competencies, and capacity-building and to establish local and regional communities of practice in which experience and knowledge can be leveraged to benefit patients and the healthcare work force in low-resource settings. GHIP is already involved with global health leaders, including Health Metrics Network, a partnership hosted by the World Health Organization; International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA); IntraHealth International; Millennium Villages Project, Earth Institute, Columbia University; Regenstrief Institute, Inc. (at Indiana University School of Medicine); OER Africa (an initiative of South Africa Institute for Distance Education); and OpenMRS.

"An abundance of GHIP's work will be carried out through its portal, www.ghip.net," explains Mayes. "GHIP's knowledge-transfer activities will underpin its multiple roles as a health informatics information resource center, a coordinator and developer of health informatics training media, a facilitator in accessing health informatics experts and human resources, as well as a collaborative ecosystem that focuses on problem-solving in real-world healthcare and health delivery settings."

GHIP is governed by a newly named Board of Directors:

  • John H. Holmes* (Chair), PhD, Associate Professor of Medical Informatics in Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • Dominik Aronsky*, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics & Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University
  • Antoine Geissbuhler, MD, Professor of Medical Informatics, Chairman of the Department of Radiology and Medical Informatics at Geneva University, Director of the Division of Medical Informatics at Geneva University Hospitals, and President of Health-On-the-Net Foundation
  • Rita Kukafka*, DrPH, MPH, MA, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University
  • Gilad Kuperman*, MD, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University. Also Director for Interoperability Informatics at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the Board Chair and Executive Director of NYCLIX, Inc., a RHIO in New York City
  • Heimar de Fatima Marin, RN, MS, PhD, Professor of Health Informatics at Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Also a Brazilian-trained nurse with a post doctoral fellowship in Clinical Informatics at Harvard Medical School
  • Chris Seebregts, PhD, Senior Manager in Biomedical Informatics Research at the South African Medical Research Council, an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Executive Director of Jembi Health Systems, a South African NGO developing and implementing eHealth and health information systems in Africa

*Also a member of the AMIA Board of Directors

GHIP Board Chair John Holmes notes that moving medical knowledge from research to practice remains a huge challenge. "Innovative methods of accessing and transferring knowledge are being sought by many global healthcare coalitions," he observes. "Rethinking how health care is delivered and how healthcare institutions can foster better health through the science and practice of informatics, and the development and use of information and communications technology is a topic being examined at the highest levels of the healthcare sector, both in private and public institutions."

Mayes will lead the newly formed GHIP team to Cape Town, South Africa, in mid-September, where they will introduce a group of prototypes called HIBBs, Health Informatics Building Blocks; informatics training modules designed for community health workers in low-resource clinical settings.

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AMIA, the leading professional association of informatics professionals, is an important player in medicine, health care, and science, and serves as the voice of the nation's top biomedical and health informatics professionals. It is a trusted source of unbiased information and the center of action for thousands of health care professionals, informatics researchers, and thought-leaders who advance ideas, policy objectives, and education related to biomedical and health informatics.

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