Degree Focused Health Information

July 31, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Davenport University has its eye on producing homegrown talent for the area’s burgeoning health care field with a new bachelor’s degree in health information management starting this fall.

Denise Oleske, Davenport’s dean of the School of Health Professions, said the program will help students address the issues of security, benefits, financial transactions, patient safety and electronic medical records.

“The whole idea of transactions in health care is getting more complex,” Oleske said.

How to handle those transactions, as well as patient safety, are high on the list of skills with which to equip health care employees, Oleske said.

The bachelor’s degree will focus on the more analytical work and supervisory issues that students might have to deal with in the workplace.

Oleske said the program was added because of a need for health care information managers in the area.

“When we plan a program at Davenport, we plan on what we anticipate to be the employment needs of the state of Michigan, as well as Indiana,” Oleske said.

Susan Slajus, division chair of health and information management, said the new bachelor’s program builds on the associate’s degree currently offered and helps students learn more about the changing world of medical records.

“We touch all levels of the health care industry, wherever data is collected,” Slajus said. “We need qualified individuals to manage that information.”

The need is becoming greater as electronic medical records become a national issue, Slajus said.

“Davenport is providing that opportunity for future health information managers to follow that career path,” she said.

Slajus said Davenport has partnered with the American Health Information Management Association to stay current on changes in the field and prepare students for future employment.

“We have to keep up with the needs of the work force,” she said.

The American Health Information Management Association has created a virtual lab, partnering with leaders in the health care industry, which Davenport is utilizing in the health information management program. Davenport will work in conjunction with QuadraMed Corp. to have access to the company’s QuadraMed MPI product suite and the lessons on patient identity management.

“They’ve been working with other vendors to roll out modules over the next few years so we can provide the software lessons for students that we might not otherwise be able to do,” Slajus said. “Right now, what’s in the virtual lab for us to beta test is a master patient index, which most schools have not been able to create or tap into or have at their sites.”

The virtual lab will also help distance students get a hands-on experience.

“Our distance students will get the same lessons that our in-seat students have,” she said.

Slajus said the virtual lab program is helpful both to the students who learn from it and the vendors who donate their modules.

“I hope vendors recognize that our students are future users of their products, future buyers of their products,” she said.

While the virtual lab is a great aid to the program, Slajus said she is very excited about the program itself and what it means to the health information management sector.

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