Texas State professors share research at Australia conference


Brian Hudgins | December 7, 2023

karen and david gibbs
Karen Gibbs, Ph.D., and David Gibbs, Ph.D.

A team of Texas State researchers recently traveled to Australia to present their work related to the challenges university educators face incorporating healthcare data into curriculum and programs for health information management students.

David Gibbs, Ph.D., Karen Gibbs, Ph.D., and Barbara Hewitt, Ph.D., of the College of Health Professions traveled over 8,000 miles to deliver a presentation at the International Federation of Health Information Management Association’s 2023 International Congress in Brisbane, Australia. The presentation—titled “We’re Already Doing That! Assisting Healthcare Educator Colleagues to Meet Health Informatics Competency Requirements”—received the Best Paper from the Americas Region Award.

Their collaborative peer-reviewed research article, “Health information management and physiotherapy faculty collaboration to discover the use of health informatics hiding in plain sight in an entry-level Department of Physical Therapy (DPT) program,” was published online and in a special issue of the Health Information Management Journal.

Health informatics is the process of using science and data analytics to improve health care outcomes. Dr. Gibbs and his team said the conference gave them an opportunity to discuss best practices with a wide range of peers. 

“It was exciting to see this project expand all the way to Australia,” said Karen Gibbs, professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. “While our department was successful in our recent reaccreditation, the review process showed we could improve our health informatics student learning objectives (SLOs), so I contacted David and Barbara in Health Information Management (HIM) for help.” 

She said the team hopes its results will help other clinical programs meet or exceed health informatics accreditation requirements. “We needed help identifying where we already had health informatics content in the curriculum and how to better represent it in our SLOs,” Karen Gibbs said. “The process even sparked some new ideas of how we can easily incorporate a bit more moving forward.” 

This project demonstrates practical benefit from collaboration between the two departments. “If you need help with health informatics,” Karen Gibbs said, “go to the experts!” 

When one of the experts is your spouse, all the better. “It was fun to work on this project together and deliver our first joint presentation,” Karen Gibbs said. “David and Barbara work hard to promote their program and the HIM field and I was happy to be involved in something that was beneficial to both our departments.” 

David Gibbs, associate professor and chair of the Department of Health Informatics & Information Management, said the Brisbane conference revealed that Health Information Management education programs in other countries are facing some of the same challenges as programs in the United States.

“At the top of the list is awareness among students, parents and guidance counselors about the exploding career opportunities in the field of health information,” he said.

Gibbs routinely heard from international colleagues that most students discover the HIM field only after starting their careers in other areas of healthcare, technology, or business. That leaves the Texas State contingent and their peers addressing the question: How do we introduce those students to the HIM field sooner?

“There are initiatives underway to raise awareness of HIM careers at the high school level and among early college students interested in healthcare,” David Gibbs said. 

Once students have that ground-level awareness, the next step is preparing them to enter a global HIM environment that includes a rapid adoption of health information technology, data analytics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, information governance, and other components of digital healthcare. “The topics we teach in our U.S.-based HIM programs will help our students be prepared for careers in health information anywhere they choose to live across the U.S. or abroad,” David Gibbs said. 

The Round Rock Campus has implemented new options for incoming students. HIM courses are available on the Round Rock Campus, via hybrid delivery, or fully online. Those who join the Bachelor’s of Science in Health Information Management (BSHIMmajor also earn a built-in minor in health informatics. A fully online Master of Health Information Management degree is also available. 

Students and faculty at the Round Rock Campus have an enhanced opportunity for interprofessional collaboration across disciplines. “Having multiple disciplines in close proximity in Round Rock enables innovative collaboration that might not happen elsewhere,” David Gibbs said. “As more programs and resources become available, the Round Rock Campus will continue to grow as a hub for collaborative innovation across healthcare professions and other fields.”

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922