Universities with an Outstanding Health Informatics Faculty

Health Informatics is the application of technology and research to improve patient safety and quality of care. The field was born out of the implementation of electronic health records (EHR), which ushered a new era of digitization within the medical industry.

Health informatics professionals are trained to use information technology and communication tools to acquire, store, retrieve, analyze, and disseminate biomedical information for decision-making and problem-solving in healthcare. Also known as biomedical or medical informatics, health informatics is an interdisciplinary field that draws upon areas such as organizational management; computer, information, and cognitive sciences; and the sciences of the professions using the health data.

Health informaticians are needed across a broad spectrum of healthcare domains. They often sub-specialize within various health-related professions and areas in need of informatics expertise. These sub-disciplines solve different kinds of issues, but they all use a set of common informatics techniques. Leadership roles in health informatics often combine one or several areas of expertise with field training and include roles, such as clinical data analysts, health IT consultants, medical information officers, nurse informaticists, and others.

An online master’s in health informatics can be completed in two years of part-time study. Students take courses on the landscape of public health, information systems and technology, database modeling and design, healthcare data analytics, business intelligence, health information legislation, project and program management, and leadership and strategic management in health settings. Graduates can obtain leadership positions in hospitals, government agencies, and software development companies.

This list highlights accomplished health informatics (and related) faculty members at four notable universities: Boston University’s Metropolitan College, the University of Scranton, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Cincinnati.

These professors have demonstrated their expertise through years of work experience, teaching, study, and research. Their contributions to the field consist of groundbreaking research, significant published works, excellence in teaching, leadership in industry organizations, honors and awards, and other professional accolades.

Boston University

Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) was founded in 1965 as the school’s division of continuing education. MET’s establishment served as an affirmation of BU’s commitment to leadership and community involvement, represented by the consolidation of community service, research, and continuing education activities. The intention was to offer liberal arts and science courses in the late afternoons, evenings, and weekend mornings as a “bridge from BU to the world.”

Within the first two years, MET began to offer a bachelor of liberal studies, a bachelor of applied science, and a bachelor of applied science in data processing and computing—all in part-time study formats. This paved the way for the bachelor of applied science in computer science and concentrations in software design and analysis and information systems.

Other groundbreaking advancements came in 1972 when labor organizer and poet, Elizabeth Barker started the credit-bearing prison education program at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk with BU president John Silber, and in 1980, when Silber founded the Evergreen program to engage seniors in the academic offerings of the school. Another notable American, Julia Child, served as adjunct professor and started the master of liberal arts in gastronomy.

  • Lou Chitkushev, PhD – Metropolitan College

    Dr. Lou Chitkushev is the associate dean of academic affairs, associate professor of computer science, and the director of health informatics and health sciences at Metropolitan College. He teaches courses on medical informatics, computer networks, biometrics, network security, business data communications, and advanced internet technologies.

    Dr. Chitkushev’s research interests include biomedical informatics, networking, and data assurance. He co-founded BU’s Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cybersecurity and helped the school obtain the designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the National Security Agency. His work has been published at several industry conferences, including the International Conference on Computer Science and Education and the International Conference on Information Warfare and Security. He has also served on several IEEE conference committees.

    Dr. Chitkushev earned his doctorate at Boston University. He has a master of science from the Medical College of Virginia, a master of science and a bachelor of science, both from the University of Belgrade, in Serbia.

  • Guanglan Zhang, PhD – Metropolitan College

    Dr. Guanglan Zhang is the current coordinator of health informatics at Boston University’s Metropolitan College, where she is also an associate professor of computer science. She is widely published in the field with more than thirty journal articles to her name.

    Dr. Zhang’s primary research interests lie in the areas of machine learning, diagnostic tools, complex biological processes, next-generation biological databases, and analytical tools for pattern recognition from biomedical data. She leads the research activities at the MET health informatics research lab and is a senior bioinformatics analyst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a research associate at Harvard Medical School.

    Dr. Zhang has a master in electrical and electronics engineering and a doctorate in computer engineering from Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. She also has a master’s from Northwestern Polytechnic University and a bachelor’s from Luoyang Institute of Technology in China.

The University of Scranton

The University of Scranton was founded in the Lackawanna Valley of Pennsylvania in 1888 by Reverend William G. O’Hara, whose dream was to establish an institution of higher learning in the booming industrial area. More than a century later, the university is guided by the Jesuit heritage to provide an engaged, integrated, and global education to its students.

Founded upon a Catholic, Jesuit tradition, the University of Scranton promises a transformative, student-centered education grounded in Ignatian spiritual values. In the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, himself, the university’s mission is to promote the development of wisdom and integrity, preparing students who will “set the world on fire.”

The school has been recognized for its commitment to sustainability by the Princeton Review for the past four years. The school’s health administration (MHA) program has also been nominated as one of the best in the country by several organizations, including Healthcare Business Weekly, Modern Healthcare, and College Choice.

(Please note that while Dr. Szydlowski and Dr. West do not teach health informatics directly, they are included on this list for their integral role in related health administration programs at the university.)

  • Steven J Szydlowski, DHA – University of Scranton

    Dr. Steven Szydlowski is the current program director for the masters in health administration program at the University of Scranton—an MHA related to the school’s health informatics program. He also currently works with the Healthy Northeast Pennsylvania Initiative.

    Dr. Szydlowski gives lectures and organizes workshops around the world on global health, healthcare management, and community health. His research interests include integrative medicine and community health. Before going into academia, he worked in leadership positions at a community hospital, an integrative medicine clinic, and several physician group practices. He contributed to the Republic of Georgia’s first health management textbook and is a member of many professional organizations, including the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Healthcare Administrators.

    Dr. Sydlowski holds a doctorate in health administration and leadership from the Medical University of South Carolina, a master of business administration (MBA) and master of health administration (MHA) from the University of Scranton.

  • Daniel J West, Jr, PhD – University of Scranton

    Dr. Daniel West has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare consulting, management, and leadership. As such, he is the chairperson of health and administration at the University of Scranton, where he teaches courses on international healthcare, globalization, multiculturalism, and diversity management.

    Dr. West co-founded the Center for Global Health and Rehabilitation and is the recipient of Penn State’s 2005 Leadership and Service Award. Before going into academia, he served as CEO of a hospital, a medical practice, and several healthcare businesses.

    Dr. West has a doctorate in counselor education, a master’s of education in counselor education, and a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation education, all from Penn State University.

  • Margarete L. Zalon, PhD – University of Scranton

    Dr. Margarete L. Zalon is director of the online health informatics master’s program at the University of Scranton. She comes from a nursing background and teaches adult health nursing, research for graduate and doctoral students of nursing, and professional issues for registered nurses returning to school.

    Dr. Zalon’s research centers on pain management and vulnerable elders as well as the prevention of cognitive decline in the hospitalized elderly. She is a member of a variety of professional nursing organizations and has been recognized for her work with more than a dozen awards and honors including, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association Distinguished Nurse Award, the Promise of One Award from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Leah Fellowship for Faculty Excellence at the University of Scranton.

    Dr. Zalon holds a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from Duke University and a master of arts in nursing and doctorate from New York University.

The University of Illinois, Chicago

The University of Illinois, Chicago opened in the mid-19th century when several private health colleges were consolidated into what is now the largest university in the Chicago area, with more than 30,000 students and 15 colleges. UIC is dedicated to diversity, accessibility, and sustainability. As one of the most diverse campuses in the country, the university prioritizes eliminating disparities in education, economic opportunity, and healthcare.

In keeping with this mission and values, UIC is the home of the Great Cities Institute, which partners with businesses, governments, and community groups to improve the quality of life in urban areas around the world. The Jane Adams-Hull House, which served as a settlement house for generations for immigrants, has been established as a museum and event hall to preserve the legacy and commitment to social justice of its owner.

In keeping with its health-oriented beginnings, UIC is also the home of the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, which includes an academic medical center, a 500-bed hospital, the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois, 13 neighborhood health centers, and an outpatient care facility.

  • Jessie Chin, PhD – University of Illinois, Chicago

    Dr. Jessie Chin recently joined the UIC faculty of the biomedical and health information sciences department. She is a research assistant professor with a special interest in how older adults use information technology to locate, understand, and use information for the promotion of their own health.

    She is the recipient of numerous honors including the 2015 Arnold Small Best Student Paper, the 2013 Chateaubriand Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science, and two awards from the Beckman Institute: a graduate fellowship in advanced science and technology and an award in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. She has published her work in scholarly publications such as Topics in Cognitive Science, Memory, and the Journal of Health Communication, among others.

    Dr. Chin earned her doctorate in educational psychology and master of science in human factors at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She also has a bachelor of science in psychology from National Taiwan University.

  • Anthony Faiola, PhD – University of Illinois, Chicago

    Dr. Anthony Faiola is the current head of the biomedical and health information sciences department at UIC. He is described as a socio-technical scientist, and his research focuses on the intersection of biomedical (health) informatics and human-centered computing (human factors).

    A three-time Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Faiola has published over 100 academic papers, lectured extensively around the world, advised dozens of graduate students, and garnered over $1.5 million dollars in research funding. He has held previous academic positions at Indiana University, including founding director of the Human-Computer Interaction Program, executive associate dean of the school of informatics and computing, and director of the media arts and science department.

    Dr. Faiola holds a doctorate in sociocultural psychology from Purdue University, a bachelor of fine arts in printmaking from the State University of New York, and several master’s degrees: a master of arts in printmaking from the University of Albany, State University of New York, a master of fine arts in experimental media from the Ohio State University, and a master of arts in industrial design, human factors, and visual communication from the same school.

  • Therese Jorwic – University of Illinois, Chicago

    Therese Jorwic is an educator with more than 30 years of experience in teaching classification and coding systems. Her work includes developing educational materials for course instruction and healthcare providers.

    Professor Jorwic has also held editorial positions as a columnist for the medical office manager newsletter and as a board member of the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association. She was awarded the 2014 AHIMA Triumph Literary Legacy award for her work co-authoring the text, “ICD-10-PCS: An Applied Approach.”

    Professor Jorwic has a master of public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at the Medical Center.

  • Lois Hitchcock – University of Illinois, Chicago

    Lois Hitchcock is a clinical assistant professor at UIC, where she is responsible for all of the undergraduate and graduate health information management (HIM) courses.

    Her areas of expertise include the analysis of healthcare data, the U.S. healthcare system, and management and business practices. She has held numerous professional roles, such as director of medical records and quality insurance and administrative director of HIM. Professor Hitchcock was recognized as Educator of the Year in 2009 by the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences and is a 2015 American Health Information Management Fellow. Before going into academia, she held management positions in medical record administration and client services at several healthcare facilities.

    Professor Hitchcock has a bachelor’s degree in health information administration and a master of science in healthcare administration. She is also an AHIMA-registered health information administrator and a NAHQ-certified professional in healthcare quality.

  • Karen Patena – University of Illinois, Chicago

    Dr. Karen Patena directs UIC’s health information management programs and is currently serving as interim associate head of the biomedical and health information sciences department.

    Before going into academia, she worked in hospital record management and systems planning and implementation. She has been recognized repeatedly for her excellence in teaching in addition to being awarded the Distinguished Member and Professional Achievement awards by the Illinois HIM Association. Most recently, she was honored with the Outstanding Academic Leadership Award from the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. She is also the author of Health Information Management: Concepts, Principles, and Practice.

    Dr. Patena has a doctorate in health policy and administration from the University of Illinois, Chicago, an MBA from DePaul University with a concentration in management information systems, and a bachelor’s degree in medical record administration from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

The University of Cincinnati

Deemed one of the most beautiful campuses in the world by Forbes, the University of Cincinnati is a public research university with the mission to serve the people of Ohio, the country, and the world. This commitment is expressed through its dedication to academic excellence, urban impact, and innovation.

The “bearcat promise” is intended to support each student in their pursuit of academic excellence by making learning relevant. Students are supported in envisioning their future beyond CU and developing a clear educational pathway towards that end. With an economic impact of $4 billion, UC has held true to its promise to have a positive impact on its urban environs, as the largest employer in the area.

Having brought cooperative learning to the world in 1906, UC is now looking to pioneer a new model for effective learning and work environments with a new iteration of its co-op. The school placed 20 percent of its undergraduate students in co-ops with local businesses in the 2016-17 academic year and aims to double that number in the future.

  • Victoria M. N. Wangia-Anderson, PhD – University of Cincinnati

    At the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Victoria M. N. Wangia-Anderson serves as an associate professor of education, as well as director of the health informatics program. She helped develop the program, teaches graduate-level courses, and manages student recruitment, admission, and orientation.

    Dr. Wangia-Anderson has previous experience working with U.S. health policy initiatives aimed at engaging the patient and clinicians in the use and adoption of health information technology and exchange, among others. She is currently affiliated with the American Medical Informatics Association, the American Health Information Management Association, and the Health Information Management and Systems Society.

    Dr. Wangia-Anderson has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Earlham College, a master’s in information science from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville, and a doctorate in health informatics from the University of Minnesota–Minneapolis.

  • Brett Harnett – University of Cincinnati

    Brett Harnett is the director of the Center for Health Informatics and a field service assistant professor at UC with an academic appointment in biomedical informatics, which currently offers on-campus master’s degrees programs. Prior to his career in academia, he worked as a systems analyst at Yale University and as director of experimental information technology for a NASA-sponsored research program.

    His research interests include healthcare informatics, telehealth, government issues, funding, and industrial collaboration. He has published widely in the field and is a frequent speaker and presenter at industry meetings and conferences. He is also the founder of HiLois, a private social network designed to strengthen connections within families with elderly members challenged by technology.

    Professor Harnett has a master’s degree in information systems from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern Connecticut State University.

  • Danny Wu, PhD – University of Cincinnati

    Dr. Danny Wu is an assistant professor in the department of biomedical informatics at UC, which currently offers on-campus master’s programs only. He has a background in software engineering and was previously the lead senior analyst on a team working on a data capture system at the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center.

    His research focuses on maximizing the value of EHRs through human-computer interaction, data mining, information retrieval, and natural language processing to improve care quality and support clinical and translational research. He has published extensively in the field and was previously a student editor for the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association.

    Dr. Wu has a doctorate and a master’s from the University of Michigan School of Information and a bachelor of business administration from National Taiwan University.

Methodology

MHAOnline used the following criteria when considering and evaluating professors for inclusion on this list:

  • University Affiliation: These experts are all actively teaching and associated with health informatics (and closely related) programs at accredited universities in the U.S.
  • Publication: They have published their work extensively in peer-reviewed and scholarly journals.
  • Institutional and Peer Recognition: They are the recipients of teaching awards and honors, publishing, and research grants.
  • Professional Commitment: They have contributed to the field outside of their teaching obligations by serving as faculty deans or program directors, volunteering within the community, speaking at conferences, and other notable achievements.

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