Building successful clinical informatics teams
What makes clinical informatics teams successful?
In September 2016, the Wachter report 'Making IT work: harnessing the power of health information technology to improve care in England' was published. The report recommended that every NHS Trust should have at least five full time clinical informaticians, supporting a Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO).
Six years later, the Faculty of Clinical Informatics undertook an in-depth survey of health and care organisations and found that the number of staff varied enormously, with some organisations having as few as 0.5 clinical informaticians in post. Furthermore, we found that the size of an organisation was not related to the size of the clinical informatics team.
Here, the FCI is publishing its findings from a sample of clinical informatics teams in the UK. We have found successful clinical informatics teams:
Are integrated into the wider digital and clinical workforce
Have a strong team identity and culture.
These resources are aimed at all health and care organisations, as employers, clinical informaticians and their colleagues to support the development of a robust multi professional digital leadership team. They are based on a survey of 14 health and care organisations across the UK and an expert multi-disciplinary advisory panel drawn from FCI membership.
Developing the clinical informatics team is part of the FCI’s strategy to build a safe and skilled clinical informatics workforce and encourage a UK wide innovative clinical informatics culture.
These resources have been developed to provide guidance about:
Effective organisational structure
Building a multi-professional digital leadership team in an organisation that together represents a breadth and depth of skills and experience.
We have also collated a collection of case studies from across the UK as examples of clinical informatics teams structures and ways of working.
Why do organisations need clinical informatics teams?
Through our research, we found that clinical informaticians have positive benefits within health and care organisations.
Translator between IT and clinical staff
The clinical informatics team translate information back and forth between technical and clinical workforces. Clinical informaticians support wider communication to clinicians about what a system will do and what it will mean to them.
Identifying and helping to resolve issues
Clinical informaticians use systems in practice, and, importantly, among the wider staff who are using systems. This gives them a much better opportunity to understand how changes will affect workloads and identity issues. People may not be able to identify problems is asked directly, but it is through this exposure and being embedded in the clinical workforce that provides a unique perspective.
Improving ways of working
Clinical informaticians understand both the IT systems and processes and can identify ways in which processes can be improved, support by the systems, and can communicate credibly with clinicians about the changes required and potential benefits.
Clinical informaticians can help with raising the profile of what digital can do for all. They play an important role in coordinating training appropriately for all staff, for example when new systems are implemented and also in digital capabilities for all staff.
It's important to know what computer systems can do and what they can't do; what are they checking and what they are not checking. For example, just because a system allows you to prescribe something, that doesn't mean that the prescription is right.
Ingredients for successful team development
These seven ingredients can help develop successful clinical informatics teams in health and care organisations.
Building & marketing the team
We found it is vital for clinical informatics teams to identify as a team, to raise their profile and engage with colleagues in their organisation.
Function vs job roles
There is currently no blueprint for clinical informatics teams. Successful teams are those which are able to clearly define responsibilities and functions.
Team working methods
Regular team meetings and creating opportunities for collaboration are key recommendations from successful clinical informatics teams.
Engagement with wider clinical workforce
Effective communications with the wider clinical workforce will help clinical informatics teams to have an impact.
Professional development for individuals & teams
CPD and appraisals covering the full informatics remit of clinical informaticians are key to professional development. Tips are also provided on development opportunities.
Integration with wider digital team
Successful clinical informatics teams are those which have been able to effectively integrate with the wider digital team.
Clinical representation at Board level
As well as being aware of Executive- and Board-level priorities, clinical informatics teams can benefit from engagement with their organisation's Board members.
In developing our resources about clinical informatics teams, we were committed to exploring the picture in reality.
Are organisations meeting the Wachter quotas?
Do clinical informatics teams represent a range of disciplines?
What factors contribute to a successful clinical informatics team?
The case studies in the report describe real-life examples of how clinical informaticians are able to come together as teams in health and care organisations across the UK today.