UAMS Receives National Accreditation for Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program

By David Robinson

Obeid Shafi, M.D.

Obeid Shafi, M.D.

The fellowship accreditation comes from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), providing 10 years of continued accreditation pending annual program reviews.

Clinical informatics is a new and growing field that aims to improve patient health outcomes by applying the latest advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital health and other technologies.

Offering two years of training, the program was established in 2020 by UAMS in partnership with Arkansas Children’s (ACH). It began with two fellows and now has five. The accreditation was preceded by an initial trial period and an on-site inspection by an accreditor.

“This is a significant accomplishment for us, and I am proud of the UAMS and ACH informatics leaders who partnered to make this vital program possible,” said Susan Smyth, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice chancellor of UAMS and dean of the College of Medicine. “The ACGME accreditation will help us lead the country in a field that is playing an increasingly important role in health care, significantly in health outcomes and health equity.”

The program is offered by the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Biomedical Informatics, led by Fred Prior, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair.

Fred Prior, Ph.D.

Fred Prior, Ph.D.

Feliciano “Pele” Yu Jr., M.D., director of the Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program, said the program is bringing rare talent to UAMS and ACH that will help drive advances locally and nationally.

“Clinical informatics professionals serve as a bridge between the practice of medicine and the advances of the digital age,” said Yu, chief medical information officer at ACH and professor and chief of the Section of Clinical Informatics at the UAMS Department of Pediatrics. “We now have a faculty team and a dynamic group of fellows working to ensure that we harness the best of our clinics, research and patient care.” 

Joseph Sanford, M.D., UAMS’ chief informatics officer, directs the fellowship program at UAMS.

“The end goal is all about improving patient care, whether it is in harnessing the latest supercomputing technologies, creating algorithms to optimize care delivery, or helping design the best telemedicine or electronic health record system interfaces for patients and physicians,” said Sanford, who also directs the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation.

The clinical informatics field was recognized less than 10 years ago as a medical subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and UAMS joined the first wave of about 30 institutions to offer the fellowship.

Feliciano “Pele” Yu Jr., M.D.

Feliciano “Pele” Yu Jr., M.D.

In addition to receiving specialized training, the fellows help run and improve the UAMS and ACH clinical information systems, see patients and provide informatics consultations to medical residents through a partnership with the College of Medicine Office of Graduate Medical Education. The fellows also conduct research with resource support from the UAMS Translational Research Institute.

The institute is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, Clinical and Translational Science Award #UL1 TR003107.

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. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 3,047 students, 873 medical residents and fellows, and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 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, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.