UAMS Professors among First to Earn New Clinical Informatics Certification

By Ben Boulden

Joseph Jensen, M.D., an associate professor in the UAMS Department of Surgery and associate chief medical officer for safety and quality at the UAMS Medical Center, and Donnal Walter, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the UAMS Department of Pediatrics and chief medical information officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, were tested in October for the new board certification and joined the inaugural class of board-certified clinical informaticians.

Clinical informatics improves the delivery of health care by leveraging components of clinical care, health systems-based practice and information and communications technology.  Clinical informaticians also are trained to ensure that the privacy and security of health care information is safeguarded, particularly as the use of health information technology expands.

Before electronic health records, comparative analysis of a patient’s medical case with similar cases hardly was an option, Jensen said. But now a physician using clinical informatics and information technology can comparatively analyze clinical information as well as work to eliminate medication errors, redundant testing and other inefficiencies.

“It means improving how people in medicine communicate,” Jensen said. “Clinical informatics touches everything in health care. For many years in health care, we have understood the importance of keeping a good record and describing and communicating about patient care. Clinical informatics provides us tools to do this much more efficiently, over remote distances and with data standardized so that we can learn from the experiences of large groups of patients.”

In September 2011, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) approved the creation of a new board certification program in clinical informatics, offering it through the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Pathology. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in cooperation with the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is developing pathways to create accredited clinical informatics fellowships.

According to the ABMS, the goals of the clinical informatics subspecialty include establishing a standardized educational and certification process for physicians in the field and enabling physicians to transform the health care into a system that taps the power of computer-bases systems to support all facets of health care delivery.

Both Jensen and Walter have many years of experience as clinicians and working with health care information systems. Only qualified applicants with such experience were allowed to take the examination for board certification in clinical informatics.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.