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Clinical and Health Information Sciences

Focus on Students: Abeer Shehada

by Kaitlyn Maxwell | Dec 08, 2016
UC student gets online health informatics degree from Qatar.

Focus on Students: Abeer Shehada

Health Informatics student A conversation with Abeer Shehada, a 2016 graduate of UC’s online health informatics program. Shehada is getting a degree from the University of Cincinnati but lives in Qatar. 

Q: How was your experience completing the degree while in a different country? 

A: “It was definitely a learning curve when it came to understanding the healthcare system in the United States. However, learning the healthcare system of another country was enlightening in the sense that it allowed me to reflect on the health care systems I was familiar with in Canada and in Qatar. Completing the degree while residing in Qatar allowed me to apply and compare what I was learning to a different type of environment which was enriching. Overall, I didn't feel being in a different country hindered my learning or reduced my experience, but instead it allowed me to concurrently take what I was learning and apply it to different scenarios.” 

Q: How different are the health IT issues in Qatar from those in the US? What are 3-5 key differences? 

A: “Health IT is expanding in the region with international guidelines and best practices being followed. As health IT is new, the issues faced and the stages of progression are different to that of the US. For example, mandates such as meaningful use are not required and the stages of interopera-bility and data sharing are starting to develop. Also, since most of the health IT vendors are US based, much of the out of the box content follows US requirements and guidelines, which are not always applicable to the region and health system's workflows.” 

Q: How do you see a MHI degree benefiting other professionals from allied health professions? 

A: “As a dietitian and a clinical informaticist responsible for the implementation of allied health electronic documentation, the MHI degree definitely provided me with a better understanding of how electronic tools can be utilized to optimize the use of electronic documentation and workflows for allied health professionals. The documentation completed by allied health professionals are very comprehensive and logical data flow in the EHR becomes very important. Also, if more allied health professionals become more aware and involved in health informatics they will definitely help fill a gap that is currently present in the health informatics field as there is a primary focus on physicians and nursing needs with limited tools addressed to allied health professionals. The more allied health professionals enter the field of health informatics, the more awareness can be raised around the importance of including allied health needs in all aspects of informatics.” 

Q: Can you summarize your practicum project? 

A: “The availability of an interdisciplinary EHR system is not frequently available, especially not without a lot of customization done by the organization. The project will focus on exploring how disparate documentation of allied health professionals can be leveraged to improve the quality of patient care. Often, EHR implementations provide a large focus on nursing, physician and ancillary department’s EHR requirements and integration. This does not factor in the allied health professionals such as dietitians, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, etc. Therefore, the focus of the project is to provide recommendations on how to improve the documentation workflow and data flow for allied health professionals through the use of data dictionaries and setting up a data governance structure. The project aims to raise awareness to the allied health professionals in the health informatics field while proposing a standardization initiative for allied health documentation.” 


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