The Howard University College of Pharmacy (HUCOP) and U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT) have collaborated to create two new initiatives Public Health Informatics and Technology for the USVI, which is a workforce training program, and the Digital Research Initiative, which will afford Virgin Islanders opportunities to advance in the fields of public health informatics, health information and telehealth.
The initiatives were established under the stewardship of Howard University Provost Anthony Wutoh, Dean Ranti Akiyode of the Howard University College of Pharmacy, and D.C.-based health transformation company Zane Networks LLC. Both initiatives have been successfully launched under OHIT and Howard University guidance (Via key supporting faculty: Dr. Mary K. Awuonda, Dr. Pamela Carter-Nolan and Dr. John Kwagyan) in collaboration with some USVI government agencies and the Schneider Regional Medical Center.
The USVI Office of Health Information Technology was established in 2021 by the governor to enhance health and wellness in the USVI through innovative and transformative health information technology resources. As such, the two major collaborative initiatives are detailed below:
- Workforce Training Initiative: This workforce training initiative, named the PHIT4VI (Public Health Informatics and Technology for the U.S. Virgin Islands) exchange program, was tailored by Dr. Awuonda for the USVI and is a program that allows students, health professionals and IT professionals from the USVI to participate in public health informatics and training (PHIT) programs as Howard University exchange students. The program includes elective courses, boot camps and workshops.
The inaugural PHIT4VI cohort includes eight PHIT Exchange participants, who will gain knowledge on defining public health informatics and health information technology, understanding the context of population health, care coordination, interoperable health IT systems, hands-on press contact training with electronic health records (EHR) and exposure to the health information exchange (HIE) data systems (specifically CRISP Shared Services) to advance population health.
- Digital Research Initiative: The digital health research initiative focuses on collaborative research in telehealth through HUCOP’s Telepharmacy and Population Health Center (HUTEPH). The center was officially launched April 20, 2023, but was in development from April 2021 under the Directorship of Dr. Mary K. Awuonda. This demonstration project was launched between Howard University College of Pharmacy and the Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) located on St. Thomas, USVI.
The first goal of the program is to initiate a telehealth-supported, pharmacist-led, transitions of care program and the second goal is to enhance Schneider Regional Medical Center’s existing Meds to Bedside Medication Management and Compliance Program.
“For HUCOP these efforts are well aligned with the college’s vision and strategic plan to expand its research and training efforts beyond mainland U.S.,” Dean Akiyode said.
“I am thrilled to see the efforts over the 18 months coming to fruition in ways that tangibly benefit Virgin Islanders,” said Michelle Francis, director of the Office of Health Information Technology. “It has been an honor and pleasure to help manifest Governor Bryan’s vision for integrated and enhanced health care through re-kindling the relationship with Howard University and partnering in ways that ultimately improve health outcomes while also positively impacting our workforce and economy.”
Cross-cutting these initiatives is the achievement of core strategic objectives for all entities in the collaboration. The renewed partnerships are the start of a long-term strategy to expand training and research between The Government of the US Virgin Islands, led by the Office of Health Information Technology and Howard University College of Pharmacy.
For more information about the Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT), visit www.ohitusvi.com.