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Open Access Research article

People, organizational, and leadership factors impacting informatics support for clinical and translational research

Philip RO Payne1*, Taylor R Pressler1, Indra Neil Sarkar2 and Yves Lussier3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biomedical Informatics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

2 Department of Computer Science, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA

3 Department of Medicine and Engineering, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-20

Published: 6 February 2013

Abstract

Background

In recent years, there have been numerous initiatives undertaken to describe critical information needs related to the collection, management, analysis, and dissemination of data in support of biomedical research (J Investig Med 54:327-333, 2006); (J Am Med Inform Assoc 16:316–327, 2009); (Physiol Genomics 39:131-140, 2009); (J Am Med Inform Assoc 18:354–357, 2011). A common theme spanning such reports has been the importance of understanding and optimizing people, organizational, and leadership factors in order to achieve the promise of efficient and timely research (J Am Med Inform Assoc 15:283–289, 2008). With the emergence of clinical and translational science (CTS) as a national priority in the United States, and the corresponding growth in the scale and scope of CTS research programs, the acuity of such information needs continues to increase (JAMA 289:1278–1287, 2003); (N Engl J Med 353:1621–1623, 2005); (Sci Transl Med 3:90, 2011). At the same time, systematic evaluations of optimal people, organizational, and leadership factors that influence the provision of data, information, and knowledge management technologies and methods are notably lacking.

Methods

In response to the preceding gap in knowledge, we have conducted both: 1) a structured survey of domain experts at Academic Health Centers (AHCs); and 2) a subsequent thematic analysis of public-domain documentation provided by those same organizations. The results of these approaches were then used to identify critical factors that may influence access to informatics expertise and resources relevant to the CTS domain.

Results

A total of 31 domain experts, spanning the Biomedical Informatics (BMI), Computer Science (CS), Information Science (IS), and Information Technology (IT) disciplines participated in a structured surveyprocess. At a high level, respondents identified notable differences in theaccess to BMI, CS, and IT expertise and services depending on the establishment of a formal BMI academic unit and the perceived relationship between BMI, CS, IS, and IT leaders. Subsequent thematic analysis of the aforementioned public domain documents demonstrated a discordance between perceived and reported integration across and between BMI, CS, IS, and IT programs and leaders with relevance to the CTS domain.

Conclusion

Differences in people, organization, and leadership factors do influence the effectiveness of CTS programs, particularly with regard to the ability to access and leverage BMI, CS, IS, and IT expertise and resources. Based on this finding, we believe that the development of a better understanding of how optimal BMI, CS, IS, and IT organizational structures and leadership models are designed and implemented is critical to both the advancement of CTS and ultimately, to improvements in the quality, safety, and effectiveness of healthcare.