Belmont University College of Pharmacy students Aziz Afzali, Emily Locke and Jae Yi recently installed the Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) nationwide information system and Electronic Health Record (EHR) in the Christy Houston Drug Information Center in Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy. VistA was developed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and currently operates in over 1200 healthcare sites of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
Afzali, Locke and Yi completed the install as part of a class assignment in the Healthcare Informatics concentration of the Belmont University College of Pharmacy Doctoral program. Dr. Anthony Blash, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical, Social and Administrative Sciences, has created a four-course sequence of classes to prepare Belmont student pharmacists for healthcare informatics and sit for the CAHIMS certification. The college saw its first student certify at the CAHIMS level 18 months ago and expects 20-30 students to certify each year moving forward. Both Afzali and Yi have already certified at the CAHIMS level, and Locke expects to complete her certification within the year.
When asked about the innovative project, Locke stated, “We got the assignment at the beginning of the semester. When I first heard about the assignment, I was excited to get some hands on experience.” Yi said, “When I got the assignment from Dr. Blash, I was scared first because I never had any EHR system experience at all. But at the same time, I thought it would be a great chance to learn how EHR systems work and how to install it.” As with any project, obstacles were encountered. Afzali identified these as “lack of computer programming knowledge and unfamiliarity with the EHR being installed.”
“I had every confidence in the team,” said Blash. “I predict that students in the Healthcare Informatics concentration will soon be able to work with an actual EHR, building clinical decision support modules which make healthcare safer and more cost effective for all. Nashville is considered by many to be home to the U.S. healthcare industry, with nearly 300 companies providing healthcare synergies found in few other places. As a HIMSS Approved Education Partner, Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy becomes the only pharmacy school in the world with a healthcare informatics concentration leading to an internationally recognized certification in healthcare informatics which may be obtained before experiential rotations, residency inquiries and job searches begin.”