A Journey to Informatics

How did you get started in informatics?

My journey to informatics started with an illness in my family.   At the time of this Illness I had more than 20 years of information technology (IT) consulting, a bachelor’s degree in business, an MBA, and felt completely helpless.  I knew my family member’s condition was serious, but I had no idea how to find the right physicians and the right treatments.  In the end, we found our physicians and treatment programs through friends and an article in the Best of Baltimore magazine.  I decided there had to be a better way for the common public to understand and make use of health data.  My journey into informatics began with an MS in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago and more than several years of providing health technology and data consulting services to several Federal agencies.

 Tell us about informatics in your organization?

My organization, IMS Health, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of health and research data.  We assist public and private organizations with evaluating diseases like Cancer, Ebola, and Aids.  We help researchers understand the impact of new therapeutic treatments.  We work with providers and payers to understand the needs of the American healthcare system, and we ensure that providers and patients have access to the most relevant and available care.  In my role, I help our government customers to understand their particular research question and to identify the "data assets" that may apply to contributing to answering the specific issue.

 Any valuable lessons learned along the way?

There are several valuable lessons that are applicable.  The first, informatics, is still largely undefined.  This means that the role of an informaticist has many definitions depending on the organization.  Some organizations view informaticists as coders while others view informaticists as quasi-researchers and problem solvers.  I prefer the later definition.  The other lesson I would pass on, don't forget about the data.  Too many informaticists (in my opinion) don't take the time to understand the research question and the data required to answer it.


About the Author

Stuart Rabinowitz is the Director of Federal Health Data and Informatics programs within IMS Government Solutions.  IMS is a global healthcare company delivering health data analytics and market intelligence, policy analysis, healthcare IT system development and management, and healthcare economic and outcomes research analysis to public and private organizations. Stuart holds an undergraduate degree from Temple University, an MBA from Lehigh University, and a Master’s of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.