The Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) have commenced a the process of consulting members, fellows and stakeholders about a merger deal, something both groups say will be strategic and strengthening for both parties.
If the proposal goes ahead – a single peak professional body dedicated to health informatics and digital health in Australasia will emerge in early 2020. The merger proposal will be taken to a vote after an 8-week consultation period, which launched on the 30th April. Members are encouraged to submit their opinions, feedback and comments about the implementation of the proposal through an online survey.
While the two organisations do have distinct functions, ACHI President Angela Ryan says that as things are unfolding in the ability for the college to maintain the professional nature that its renown for is going to get harder and hard. She told Wild Health that the two organisations have always had a shared interest and shared strategies.
“We come at the work force from slightly different perspectives, but that’s obviously why there’s quite a lot of synergy and bringing those common strategic goals together,”she said.
The two organisations have long co-existed comfortably together collaborating in one way or another since ACHI’s formation 20 years ago. They currently work closely together on the Certified Health Informatician Australasia (CHIA) initiative, the ACHI fellowship training program.
Ryan maintains that the merger aims to better serve the purposes and function of their members and community, but importantly, it will also give the organisation more weight in its role to help drive healthcare standards in Australian policies.
Ryan says that the recent significant investment in digital health in hospitals across our health services – particularly the My Health Record- has prompted a new needs in the digital health community.
“The timing is really right for a single unified voice from the health informatics perspective and also the demand for education training, professional power play certification, leadership development – all of those things can be better met if we’re working together as a single entity rather than two,” she said.
When asked if the new organisation would be a more cohesive competitor to the global digital health information and standards group HIMSS, which has increased its footprint locally in the last two years with a media offering and some more conferencing, Ryan said that she doesn’t see HIMMS as a competition.
“Health informatics is such a broad turf, and the members range everywhere from biomedical informaticians, to clinicians to consumers, researchers – and health information managers, and coders, there’s just so many different stripes… “
“[We have a] lengthy history, and a local history –a local footprint within the australiasian area”.
“As far as Australia is compares [to other countries], I think we stand up pretty well… But certainly there’s more that we can do, and I think we’ll see some changes coming in the next 12 months to 2 years.”