Mark Merolli

Q&A with Mark

1. What is your current job title?

Participatory Health Informatics Lecturer/Researcher + Physiotherapist

2. What does an average day for you entail?

At the moment my day is largely consumed with research grants, cross-disciplinary collaborations, curriculum development, preparing lectures, conducting research and fielding clinical questions

3. Are you part of any great e-health projects at the moment that we can talk about?

At the moment I am on a consultancy committee of allied health professionals working to steer allied health input into the MyHR system. This committee is a multidisciplinary group from industry and business aiming to provide valuable input into the complexities and diversity of the allied health professions and their needs for working with the MyHR system.

4. In your words, what is health informatics?

From the perspective of the key areas relevant to my own background: research and clinical practice – health informatics represents how ICT can optimize the information gathered and applied to improve healthcare and ultimately, health outcomes

5. How long have you been a CHIA?

Relatively new…3 months

6. What was your overall experience in the CHIA program?

Overall, I was relatively comfortable that I had the grounding in health informatics from my PhD and clinical background that I would get through CHIA. However, I also knew that it would require a concerted effort to ensure I was across all core competencies and hence, the study required couldn’t be underestimated

7. What do you think are the biggest benefits to having passed the exam and becoming a CHIA? Are there any positive outcomes you have already experienced that you’d like to share?

CHIA offered something of a complementarity to the rigorous PhD training program I underwent in health informatics and my current role at the University. As well as knowledge of various eHealth applications from experience in the clinical professions. I wanted to undertake the CHIA program as a way to augment and broaden my horizons across a range of areas in health informatics, as well as open doors to network with more colleagues in health informatics.

My particular interests and focus is in ‘participatory health’ informatics but the CHIA program was useful to awaken a curiosity of how interrelated so much of the work of the health informatician really is. Now, when I converse with colleagues with different interests in health and biomedical informatics, we’re able to intelligently converge our ideas and notions.

8. As a member of HISA, what do you believe are the best benefits of your membership? What keeps you interested and engaged?

Again, the opportunity to connect with colleagues and peers in professional roles across various areas of the industry is useful. As well as knowing that if I keep abreast of news and events, I won’t miss many developments in the broader field.

9. Are you currently working in Health Informatics. If so, for how many years? What is your biggest accomplishment?

Yes I am. As I mentioned. ‘Participatory Health Informatics’. This is my first formal year in this role but my experience in HI dates back a few years. I’d probably note my biggest accomplishments to date as 1) completing my PhD in HI, and 2) being recognised as one of the only active members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association with roots in HI. This is rewarding and allows me to really drive digital health amongst the profession of physiotherapy. I’m still passionate about seeing my peers in this space stay on top of the digital landscape.

10. How would you describe Australia’s acceptance of HI?

I think Australia is becoming more accepting of HI but from experience, the general consensus and understanding of HI amongst professionals and the public is still lagging. Many people reaping the benefits from ICT for health may not even know that HI is to thank for that. However, the field and our fraternity are proving critical for the perpetuation of the digital health agenda in Australia.

11. Where do you see Health Informatics in Australia in 5 years’ time? 10 years?

I’d like to think that by this stage we’ll see a greater adoption of HI in mainstream professional practice. Over the next 5-10 years, I would hope that we also see tangible evidence of the outputs, outcomes and fiduciary savings attributed to the work of HI and with this, a greater recognition at a national level of the importance of adequately funding research in HI so that we can move forwards to meet the levels of HI in Europe and the US.

12. Any other comments?

CHIA has certainly given me a broad view of HI but I’m aware that I still have much to absorb and achieve in our field. My hope is that the College and HISA can keep us engaged and continue to invest in developing the human capital behind the title. I’m hopeful that my future as a CHIA and development as a HI professional does not stop at certification.
Dr Mark Merolli PhD, CHIA, B.Physio (Hons)
Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre (HaBIC)
Melbourne Medical School
The University of Melbourne
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