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Doctorate in Health Informatics (DHI) Program
2021-2022 Student Handbook

Program Description
and Goals
Doctorate in Health Informatics
Admission Process
Application Deadlines Transfer Credit
Degree Requirements for
the Doctorate in Health Informatics
Curriculum for Doctorate in
Health Informatics Program
Progression Qualifying Exam
Translational Project Petitioning for Extension    

Program Description and Goals

The program is the nation’s first advanced practice degree in health informatics. The DHI includes unique curriculum built for professionals seeking a terminal degree in the field of health informatics.

The degree is geared towards professionals with documented executive or management-level healthcare experience. This practice doctorate program provides informatics leaders with the advanced education required to translate evidence from original research, evaluate current practices, and utilize critical thinking to accelerate the adoption of best practices in clinical and healthcare organizations.

Instruction for the program is in a hybrid environment with more than 50% of the coursework taught online. After completing necessary didactic courses, DHI students must complete a large-scale translational project at a healthcare organization. Students work under advisor guidance while completing the project, so students have the opportunity to translate evidence from original research and accelerate the adoption of best health informatics practices.

The program goals are to help students:

  • Assume leadership positions throughout the healthcare industry having integrated health informatics with organizational leadership and ethics.
  • Design, implement and evaluate health information technology quality improvement projects in health care systems.
  • Implement evidence-based practice to improve human health.
  • Employ effective communication and collaboration skills to identify and implement best practices in health care delivery.

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Doctorate in Health Informatics Admission Process

The applicant should present a completed application and official documentation of the following:

  1. A completed online application & $60 application fee.
  2. Official transcripts from every post-secondary school attended.
  3. A baccalaureate or higher degree (master’s degree preferred).
  4. No minimum GPA requirement. Majority of successful applicants have a GPA of 3.0 or greater.
  5. A resume or curriculum vitae
  6. For international applicants, a minimum TOEFL score of 87 is acceptable on the internet-based test. A minimum IELTS score is 7. F-1 sponsorship is not available for students in the DHI program.
  7. Goal Statement – follow template instructions in application.
  8. Proposed area of interest for translational practice project.
  9. A Letter of Support from the healthcare organization willing to facilitate the translational practice project. The Letter of Support must be on the healthcare organization's official letterhead. The Letter of Support should not be from the same person as a Letter of Recommendation. The Letter of Support should include background on the healthcare organization (including the indication of size and the type of activities), the area the institution expects the student to perform the project in, and whether or not the organization will provide any type of support (monetary or technical) for the applicant’s project.
  10. Three letters of reference from supervisors or colleagues. At least two letters should be from supervisors.
  11. Interview with the SBMI Admissions, Progression and Graduation (APG) Committee by invitation only. Applicants will also complete a writing assessment as part of the interview process.

Doctorate in Health Informatics application deadline:

Fall admission   -   March 1

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Transfer Credit

Transfer credit for equivalent graduate courses taken elsewhere may be awarded and used to meet degree requirements if their equivalency to a SBMI degree program course is approved through a Petition for Equivalency Credit (PEC). The maximum number of transferable semester credit hours is 21 for the DHI program. Contact the SBMI Office of Academic Affairs for information.

Courses that are accepted at SBMI through a dual or joint degree program can only be transferred in if the grade earned in the course is a “B” or higher. Courses for which grades of less than “B” were earned will not be accepted for transfer. Courses must have been completed within the last five years to qualify. See “Five(5)-Year Rule” on page 20.

Students who are presenting course work from universities or colleges outside the United States to meet admission or graduation requirements are referred to the section on International Applicants in this catalog for a listing of additional requirements.

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Degree Requirements for the Doctorate in Health Informatics

Academic Requirements

Students without a master’s degree in health informatics, or a related field, must complete 33 semester credit hours of didactic coursework before starting the DHI curriculum. Students who hold a master’s degree in informatics can immediately start the 63-semester credit hour program.

A part-time student has up to ten years (30 semesters) from the time of entry to complete the required course work. Continuous enrollment is required unless approval is obtained. A maximum of one year of an approved leave of absence will be allowed for continuance in the program. If more than one year of leave occurs, the student must apply for readmission to the program.

Each course with a BMI prefix in the Biomedical Informatics degree plan is a graduate level, professional course and must be passed with a grade of “B” or better. Students must earn a grade of “B” or higher in all dual degree program courses, unless the course is graded on a Pass or Fail basis in which a grade of “Pass” must be earned. If a dual degree student earns less than a “B” in any required course, it must be retaken to continue in the program. A grade of “B” or higher must be earned on the second attempt to prevent dismissal from the program. The minimum grade point average (GPA) required for graduation is 3.0 on all BMI courses.

Computer Requirement

Every student is required to have reliable access to a computer that meets the minimum requirements. Students are encouraged to purchase a laptop that meets the minimum UTHealth requirements. Computer requirements are listed on the website (https://sbmi.uth.edu/current-students/student-handbook/computer-requirements.htm) and are subject to change.

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Curriculum for the Doctorate in Health Informatics

The DHI program requires a minimum of 63 semester credit hours to earn the degree, for applicants with a master’s degree. This includes 30 semester credit hours of required courses and 33 semester credit hours of coursework focused on translational project advisement and evaluation and fellowship.

30 semester credit hours in required courses from SBMI catalog

  • BMI 5300 Introduction to Biomedical Informatics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6305 Social Dynamics and Health Information (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6311 Leadership and Decision Making (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6316 Change Management in Health Informatics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6324 Health Information Technology Policy (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6328 Healthcare Delivery in an EHR-enabled Environment (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7350 Scholarly Foundations of Advanced HI Practice (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7351 Evidence-based Health Informatics Practice (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7360 Advanced Project Management (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7361 Business, Contract & Vendor Management (3 credit hours)

33 semester credit hours required towards completion of the translational project

  • BMI 7170 Project Advisement (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7070 Fellowship in Health Informatics (21 credit hours)
  • MI 9950 Project Evaluation and Writing (9 credit hours)

For those entering the program with only a bachelor’s degree, the program requires the completion of 96 semester credit hours of SBMI coursework. This includes 63 semester credit hours of required courses and 33 semester credit hours of coursework focused on translational project advisement and evaluation and fellowship.

63 semester credit hours in required courses from SBMI catalog

  • BMI 5300 Introduction to Biomedical Informatics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5301 The U.S. Healthcare System (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5305 Legal and Ethical Aspects of Health Informatics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5313 Found of Electronic Health Records & Clinical Information Systems (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5315 Quality and Outcome Improvement in Healthcare (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5317 Applied Data Management (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5328 Systems Analysis and Project Management (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5329 Workflow Process Modeling (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 5371 Business and Technical Communication (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6316 Change Management in Health Informatics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6340 Health Information Visualization & Visual Analytics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6305 Social Dynamics and Health Information (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6311 Leadership and Decision Making (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6316 Change Management in Health Informatics (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6324 Health Information Technology Policy (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 6328 Healthcare Delivery in an EHR-enabled Environment (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7350 Scholarly Foundations of Advanced HI Practice (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7351 Evidence-based Health Informatics Practice (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7360 Advanced Project Management (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7361 Business, Contract & Vendor Management (3 credit hours)

33 semester credit hours required towards completion of the translational project

  • BMI 7170 Project Advisement (3 credit hours)
  • BMI 7070 Fellowship in Health Informatics (21 credit hours)
  • BMI 9950 Project Evaluation and Writing (9 credit hours)

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Progression

The DHI Progression Gates or Milestones are required tasks and assignments that must be completed, in a satisfactory manner, during each specified semester. Said Progression Gates are outlined in the DHI Progression Gates Canvas course. These Progression Gates include required attendance at all on campus DHI Visits/Seminars that take place in Houston or virtually, as needed.

Failure to complete ANY Progression Gate can result in a student being referred to SBMI's Admissions, Progression & Graduate Committee for student review and potential disciplinary action. Students must resolve all outstanding milestones by the end of the next semester or they will be unable to enroll going forward.

All DHI Students must work with their Academic Advisor regarding any issues regarding Progression Gate completion.

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Qualifying Exam

The goals of the DHI qualifying exam are:

  1. To motivate students to review and synthesize course work and reported evidence-based practice
  2. To determine the student’s ability to understand and apply fundamental concepts
  3. To develop and test the student’s ability to communicate orally and to respond to questions and comments
  4. To evaluate the student’s potential to pursue doctoral-level work
  5. To identify areas needing strengthening for the student to be successful as a DHI student and informatics leader
  6. To provide a mechanism for faculty to come to know the student’s capabilities

Students should prepare for a comprehensive qualifying exam within the semester upon completion of the second summer semester or after completion of their 33rd semester credit hour. The plan for the qualifying exam will be developed in conjunction with the academic advisor.

The qualifying exam consists of demonstration of competency with both:

Domain-Specific Knowledge

Demonstration knowledge, understanding, and proficiency in domain specific content and methodology. One of the purposes is to challenge students to discover relevant literature and deepen their knowledge of interests within this track.

Breadth of Knowledge across the discipline

Demonstrate breadth of knowledge across health sciences disciplines through questions that require synthesis of knowledge from core areas.

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General Structure of the Exam

  1. Topics for the exam will include materials covered in the Required Courses and materials selected within a specific domain. The domain specific reading list will be developed in conjunction with the Committee Chair/Advising Committee.
  2. Students will complete a written exam including both domain general and domain specific questions.
  3. In addition to the written exam, students will prepare their translational project proposal and deliver a public defense of the translational project proposal.
  4. Following the written exam and public defense, the student, Advising Committee, and DHI Qualifying Exam Committee will take part in a closed question and answer session (1-2 hours) over the written exam and public defense.

Submission deadlines related to materials related for the qualifying exam (e.g. reading list, project proposal to committee) will follow a set timeline following the student’s declaration of intent. All components of the qualifying exam must be attempted within 30 days.

The qualifying exam dossier will contain the following items:

  1. Written translational practice project proposal
  2. List of references (30-50 articles) for three domain areas related to their proposed translational project. Students should discuss these areas with their advisor in the process of planning their graduate program and prior to preparation of their qualifying exam materials.
  3. Current CV or resume
  4. All previously completed Individualized Development Plans

Grading

The Advising Committee and DHI Qualifying Exam Committee will assign one of the following grades to the overall qualifying exam:

  1. Pass unconditionally
  2. Pass conditionally (Advising Committee together with the DHI Qualifying Exam Committee to specify the conditions needed to pass, such as remedial coursework needed)
  3. Fail with option to retake
  4. Fail without option to retake

A student must be successful on each element of the qualifying exam to achieve pass unconditionally. The Advising Committee decision, together with the DHI Qualifying Exam Committee decision, will determine the specific requirements for options of a conditional pass or options to retake (e.g. retake the written and the oral, oral only, remediate with additional coursework.)

If given the option to retake, students will be allowed to retake any specified portion of the exam once. Efforts to retake the progression sequence must be completed within 12 weeks. Failure to progress after this point will result in dismissal from the program.

Upon successful completion of all components of the Qualifying Exam, the DHI student will have Advanced to Candidacy for the Doctorate in Health Informatics.

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Translational Project

The DHI culminates with a translational project and a project evaluation report. Students in the program will work on didactic courses and translational project work simultaneously. Students identify a project and primary advisor during the first semester of study and invite two additional committee members during the second semester.

The Project Advisement course is taken as the student works with an advisor and committee to prepare the project plan. At the end of the student’s first year, a tentative timeline for the completion of the DHI program and translational project must be submitted.

The translational project requires:

  • Background and review of relevant literature/evidence
  • Project overview
  • Theoretical framework/logic model
  • Purpose statement/significance of project
  • Evaluation design, including return on investment
  • Implementation/gather evidence
  • Recommendations
  • Future implications

After completing the translational project, the student must present the findings. The presentation must be presented at an oral session that is open to the public. Translational project documents authored by degree candidates are available to interested members of the general public upon request. After the presentation, the translational project committee votes to pass or fail the student. If the student passes and all other degree requirements are met, the translational project committee makes its recommendation for the degree to be awarded.

Petitioning for Extension

Students who have exceeded their time to degree deadline or a milestone deadline for the qualifying exam or project defense may petition APG for an extension. The Petition to Extend Time Boundary for Qualifying Exam or Translational Practice Project Defense form can be found under the Current Student section of the SBMI website.

For further curriculum information, please contact:

UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics Office of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin Street Suite 650
Houston, Texas 77030
Telephone: (713) 500-3591
Email: SBMIAcademics@uth.tmc.edu

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