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What's new in Informatics Capability Development

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New Areas of Work for Health Informatics on the Electronic Staff Record Agreed

The profession of health informatics has been developing in the NHS for approximately fifteen years.

Health informatics is now recognised as a profession through services such as the United Kingdom Council for Health Informatics Professions (UKCHIP), which provides professional registration, and the Health Informatics Career Framework (HICF).

 

Planning professional development strategically for health informatics specialists has always been hampered by the difficulty in identifying who and where those specialists are. Workforce profiling exercises carried out in Wales and two UK strategic health authorities (SHAs) suggests that the health informatics workforce makes up approximately 3% of the total NHS workforce. This indicates that there could be approximately 50,000 health informatics professionals working in the NHS.

 

The obvious place to look to identify these professionals is through their HR record, and for all but two NHS organisations in England and Wales this would be via the Electronic Staff Record (ESR). The ESR is an integrated payroll and HR system, which can also be used to enhance workforce planning and information by interrogating the areas of work and roles that individuals are engaged in. For those organisations that use it, every direct NHS employee is recorded on the ESR system.

 

Until now the National Workforce Dataset (NWD) and therefore the ESR has not included specific detailed areas of work for health informatics professionals who have traditionally been categorised under corporate, administration or estates management categories.

For the past twelve months a team from the Department of Health Informatics Directorate (DHID) have been working with the Workforce and Facilities team at the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), led by Nick Armitage, to develop areas for work for health informatics.

 

Using the Health Informatics Career Framework as a foundation, which follows a similar structure to the fields used in ESR to define an employee's role, a new set of Area of Work values have been approved for use by the Information Standards Board (ISB). Details of the new values can be found on the ISB website - http://www.isb.nhs.uk/news-folder/1067302011/

 

This now means that, once the necessary changes have been made to the ESR list of values over the next six months, health informatics staff will be able to be categorised using the following values:

GRWA Area of Work (ESR):  

Definition

This is the area, function or specialty where the work activity takes place.

Classification & Codes

Primary Secondary Tertiary

Clinical Support

Informatics

Health Records

Clinical Support

Informatics

Clinical Informatics

Corporate

Informatics

Coding

Corporate

Informatics

Information and Communication Technology

Corporate

Informatics

Informatics Education and Training

Corporate

Informatics

Programmes and Projects

Corporate

Informatics

Information Management

Corporate

Informatics

Informatics Strategy and Development

Corporate

Informatics

Knowledge Management

The tertiary values are what data in-putters using ESR in organisations will see when they categorise or search for staff. This means that staff can be clearly categorised in one of the main health informatics specialisms including a new one to cover people who work in the area of strategy and development.

 

Both the secondary and tertiary levels will be of use to workforce planners and developers, HR teams and directors looking to manage the structure of their teams. Both levels of data will be available for organisations to use through iView, an online management information service that provides aggregated health and social care data to authorised users within the NHS. Details on how to access iView can be found on the HSCIC website - http://www.ic.nhs.uk/services/nhs-iview

 

These categories will be available in ESR by summer 2012.In order to support the effort that will be required to encourage organisations to use the new values, a user manual is being developed which will be available to all staff who are involved with inputting data into the ESR. There are also plans to run workshops to spread awareness of the new values and to support staff whose work will be directly affected by the changes.

 

Dr Ira Laketic-Ljubojevic from the DHID said, "This is a major achievement which will allow organisations to build a much more useful picture of their health informatics capability as well as informing strategy development at a national level to ensure maximum benefits are delivered to all health informatics professionals working in the NHS."

 

For more information on the DHID contribution to the implementation of the new Area of Work values please contact ira.laketic-ljubojevic@nhs.net

 

Nick Armitage from the HSCIC said, "The implementation of the new Area of Work values should be a real boost to the quality of information available about informatics professionals working in the NHS. They also highlight the value of a clearly defined career framework when looking to improve workforce information standards."

 

For more information on the new Area of Work values, please contact the HSCIC – enquiries@ic.nhs.uk