The University of Eastern Finland’s Master’s degree programme in health and human services informatics, which is held at the Kuopio campus, has become the first master's degree programme in the world to be certified by the International Medical Informatics Association. The association has almost 50 member universities around the world. Audits for the new certification were launched this year, with the University of Eastern Finland’s degree programme one of four study programmes to be audited. In addition to the University of Eastern Finland, only one other programme was certified, a polytechnic-level study programme in Chile. The audit practice that was used is to become the association's standard practice with the current criteria. The awarded certificate is valid for the next five (5) years.
The University of Eastern Finland’s degree programme in health and human services informatics is the only one of its kind in Finland and there are only a few similar programmes in other European universities. The study programme focuses on the planning, management, implementation and evaluation of the use of social and health care information resources, as well as the development and evaluation of information technology and information systems from the point of view of the social and health care sector. Originally launched in Eastern Finland in 2000, the study programme became a regular degree programme, following an evaluation by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2006.
The degree programme is based on IMIA’s education recommendations from 1999 and their new version from 2009. The programme has been adapted to the needs of Finnish social and health care service systems and the education is planned in accordance with the constantly changing needs of the field.
The audit, which was carried out in February 2012, compared the degree programme to the contents of IMIA’s recommendations and also looked at student employment rates, the effectiveness of the education and its connections to society at large. The international auditors interviewed current degree programme students, graduates who had found employment, as well as partners of the degree programme in the fields of health care and software development. The programme was especially praised on the innovation of combining the fields of human services and health care in informatics studies as well. The auditors were also surprised by the flexibility that Finnish higher education legislation affords students concerning study times and tuition fees. Both were deemed to have a positive effect on the education.
Most graduates of the now certified degree programme have found employment in their field from municipalities, joint municipal authorities, public administration IT units, as well as private companies and large-scale national information management projects. Cooperation with other parties in the sector is also working well, as is evident by the fact that the social and health care informatics forum, held in Kuopio on 25 October 2012, attracted over 130 attendees.
The certificate was awarded by IMIA, which operates as a bridging organisation in the field and includes 58 member states and 47 academic members (www.imia.org).The organisation plays a central role in the development and evaluation of health care information management and technology, as well as a promoter of research and good practices. The Department of Health and Social Management, which provides education in the field of health and human services informatics, has been an academic institutional member of IMIA since 2007.
For more information, please contact Professor Kaija Saranto, tel. +358 50 565 0040 (kaija.saranto(at)uef.fi) or Lecturer Sirpa Kuusisto-Niemi, tel. +358 40 355 2917 (sirpa.kuusisto-niemi(at)uef.fi)
For more information on health and human services informatics studies, please visit www.uef.fi/stj/sosiaali-ja-terveydenhuollon-tietohallinto
Publishing year: 2012Back to this years article listing