Conestoga news

November 30, 2004 3:34 PM

Unique New Conestoga Degree Program Will Add Value to Health Care System

"Accountability and integration depend on good information and the systems to share that information with all members of the health care team. Health information technology has the potential to become one of the most powerful unifying forces in our health care system. Information technology is essential to driving our transformation agenda and it is essential to health care in Ontario."

Hon. George Smitherman, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
September 2004

Kitchener, ON - With information comes power: the power to make health care in Ontario more responsive, more effective, more efficient and a model for the world.

The key is health informatics, which combines computer technology, data storage and retrieval, high-speed communication, and the application of management science to transform health care for the benefit of patients, clients, health professionals and health care institutions of all types and sizes.

Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning will offer Ontario's first four-year, baccalaureate, college-based program in Health Informatics Management in Kitchener starting in the fall of 2005.

The breadth and depth of the program will be impressive, because it will combine a high level of learning in health sciences, information technology, communications skills and the principles of business management, combined with ample opportunity to apply all these skills hands-on in real-life situations. Each year of the program will feature a co-op education component (three co-op terms are mandatory, while the fourth is an optional opportunity), and a clinical practicum experience.

Graduates of the program will be equipped to make an immediate impact on Ontario's health care system in ways as varied as the following possibilities:
• Developing an electronic patient-records system for a hospital
• Managing a computerized information system for tracking infectious diseases
• Designing and maintaining databases for medical labs, hospitals and pharmacies
• Evaluating clinical trial results for pharmaceutical companies
• Creating software for use in drug research and discovery.

"Health care is of vital importance to all of us, every day," says Bill Jeffrey, Conestoga's Associate Vice-President of Health Sciences, Community Services and Biotechnology. "The move is towards co-operation and teamwork among health care professionals, both to meet client needs promptly and to work with governments in developing systems and procedures that are accountable and economical and that produce community health and well-being. The key to all of this is information - reliable information, with the power to do immense good."

The need exists, now and in the future, for health informatics specialists. Estimates are that 2,000 positions for health informatics professionals exist in Canada right now. That need will increase as transformation of the health care sector continues.

Conestoga will grant a Bachelor of Applied Health Sciences (Health Informatics Management) degree to graduates.

"Our program is a first for Ontario, because it has an applied health sciences focus in health informatics management," says Jeffrey.

He adds that health informatics will have a positive effect for users of the health care system, because as the field grows it will begin to join health professionals in an increasingly global network that can move quickly and efficiently to meet individual patient needs.

Conestoga is becoming a leader in developing and delivering four-year, college-based baccalaureate programs. Other Conestoga degree programs offer specialized learning in advanced manufacturing technologies, telecommunication and computer technologies, architectural project and facility management, and advanced wood products manufacturing technologies.

CCONTACT: Paul Osborne, 519-748-5220, ext. 3419,