The role of Health Information Managers in trauma research

By Genevieve Westacott, Brett Droder and Jesani Catchpoole

Health Information Management

Health Information Managers (HIMs) are vital components of the healthcare system, working behind the scenes across the health sector to keep hospitals running. HIMs are trained to work with confidential information such as patient records, information systems and workflows, and the translation of health data through different processes. Additional study in clinical terminology and anatomy helps when liaising with doctors, and expertise in the business aspects of the healthcare system strengthens understanding of funding and resourcing models.

Typically, most HIMs graduates work in hospital Health Information departments, using their skills to collect, manage and report health data to support clinical care and health service management. Health Information departments perform a wide range of activities to keep healthcare facilities functioning. Primarily, they use HIMs to ensure the ongoing management of patient information and information systems, allowing information to flow through the healthcare system.

HIM skills have also been proven to be translatable and effective within research. Brett Droder, Genevieve Westacott and Jesani Catchpoole have rare research-centric positions as HIMs at the Jamieson Trauma Institute (JTI) and are actively involved in a number of trauma research projects, using their health information knowledge and diverse expertise to work with trauma data.

Brett began studying HIM to enable him to apply his knowledge in information technology to the health sector. His interest in trauma health research was sparked from an internship in Berlin working with Michael Schuetz, now director of JTI, followed by Brett’s final year placement at JTI in Brisbane. Combining eHealth, clinical coding and database skills gained from the HIM degree with experience exploring an mHealth platform in Germany, Brett specialises in using data and new technologies to improve the quality and effectiveness of trauma systems. This involves the scoping and feasibility of several multi-jurisdictional clinical registries, personal mobility device injury studies, and general HIM support and advice across JTI.

Genevieve came across her HIM degree by chance. While studying science, she met the Health Information Services director from Logan hospital, who quickly convinced her to change careers. Genevieve worked as a clinical coder, reading medical records and translating them into data. In her final year of study, she secured a placement with JTI, where she discovered her passion for research. Now employed at JTI, Genevieve develops tools to streamline injury reporting and investigates wearable technologies. Genevieve also helps provide coding guidance and information systems knowledge. Recently, she has undertaken another role as a data analyst with the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit.

Jesani is also a qualified HIM who has chosen a career path in injury research. In her PhD project, she used her health information knowledge and training to develop and evaluate approaches for using injury data to support product safety initiatives. She has continued to work as an injury researcher and data analyst for the last 10 years, developing expertise in injury surveillance systems, injury data analysis and injury classification.