The Informatics Academy: People, process and technology, part III
In this three-part blog series, Sarah Gilbert, Director of PHII’s Informatics Academy, explores how the three focus areas of informatics – people, process, and technology – illustrate the Academy’s approach to training the public health workforce.

Of people, process, and technology, the technology component of informatics receives a significant amount of attention. It’s easy to understand why: technology is fundamentally changing the way organizations do business and how people consume information. The same is true in public health. Technology presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges to the public health practitioners we serve. At PHII, we work to ensure organizations can adopt technology properly to support their goals and business processes, ultimately leading toward improving public health practice. We see technology as a powerful support to people and process, not the primary focus.

In the Academy, we harness the power of technology to deliver flexible learning solutions available where and when they are needed. We use cutting-edge, cloud-based technology to deliver content that is accessible and convenient. Our platforms support both synchronous and asynchronous learning, allowing practitioners who use our system to participate in instructor-led or self-paced courses, depending on their preferences and availability.

For example, communities of developing practice (also known as cohort communities or CDPs) are unique components of the Academy’s offerings. Collaborating around common areas of interest is essential to any learning process. By bringing together practitioners with shared goals and leveraging technology to provide structure for discussion and contribution, we can support competency building within that group. First, we create scaffolding by providing core content, helpful resources and access to subject matter experts. Our platforms support videos, webinars, classroom trainings and threaded discussion boards to connect people to have conversations with each other. Subject matter experts are able to participate and monitor these discussions, giving our audience access to industry leaders and experts that provide real-life examples and practical suggestions. We blend formal and social learning through an online space to create a forum for conversations to emerge.

In addition to supporting the learning of groups of practitioners, this exchange of information results in living content and supports continuous improvement and evaluation of our solutions. The data we collect allows us to conduct predictive analyses and identify trends to support workforce development. By analyzing our systems and assessing feedback, we’re able to evaluate the effectiveness of our content, how people interact with it and what tools were most useful. We’re also able to determine if there are additional training needs we can meet to improve our current solutions and create new ones. The community plays a critical role in this evaluation process. We use feedback to add more value to our solutions to keep our content fresh, relevant and useful. Not only do we leverage feedback on our tools, but we also share your suggestions for tools that have been valuable to your work processes so others can use them, too!

People provide us with skill and diverse perspectives needed to face public health and informatics challenges. Processes help us guide our work in a structured, logical way. Technology is the support that can help us work smarter and more efficiently with a larger-scale impact.

Together, we can ensure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions, resulting in healthier populations.