After five years as a grassroots initiative, the Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER) on July 1 will become a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization to further its mission of educating nurses and interdisciplinary and allied health professionals to use technology and informatics to improve patient care and consumer health.
After nursing informatics students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) worked with TIGER leadership to conduct an organizational assessment, it was apparent that TIGER needed to be able to legally accept funding to sustain the initiative, says Mary Walker, a member of the TIGER Phase III Executive Committee, and director, Health & Human Services Special Programs, Agilex Technologies Inc. “So many people have come up to us at meetings and said, ‘I want to contribute my stipend for today,’ and those funds would help us get our message out,” says Walker.
With these new resources, the necessary infrastructure, including staff, plus marketing, Web development, communications and meetings support, can now be funded. “We needed to have formalization, a good budget, and staff because all of us including Pat Walker, Mary Walker, many others, and me, have been working as volunteers for a good five years,” says Marion J. Ball, Ed.D, TIGER Executive Committee member, and senior advisor, Healthcare and Life Sciences Institute, IBM Research. “Now, we’ll be in prime time and will step on the healthcare informatics radar screen.”
TIGER began in 2006, with support from more than 70 contributing organizations and a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The first phase gathered more than 100 nursing informatics leaders from healthcare organizations, education, government agencies, and other key stakeholders for a summit, “Evidence and Informatics Transforming Nursing,” to create a vision for the future to improve the quality of healthcare via technology and informatics. From 2007 to 2009, phase two grouped volunteers into nine collaborative teams to focus on topics like standards and interoperability, usability and clinical application design, and consumer empowerment and personal health records. The detailed findings were published earlier this year in the Fourth Edition of Nursing Informatics where Technology and Caring Meet.
10-year vision mapped out during TIGER Phase I Symposium in 2006
Virtual Learning Environment
Now, five years later, these many volunteer hours and efforts have helped advance the TIGER cause to where it is now, a formalized organization with a newly designed website with all the published best practices from the collaborative teams. What’s to come is a highly anticipated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which will be a dynamic online environment with tools like tutorials, scenario-based learning, traditional online learning, and education gaming/modules/scenarios to further educate and demonstrate this technology.
“We don’t see the TIGER Virtual Learning Environment as the answer; it is one of many solutions ,” says Patricia Hinton Walker R.N., Ph.D., TIGER Phase III Chair, and Vice President for Nursing Policy and Professor of Nursing, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. “We see it as an opportunity to do what TIGER has historically done, which is point people back to specialty practice groups, provider or educational institutions/organizations, professional associations and industry which have great content already.”
The VLE will launch later this year with a plan to work with John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., to provide a sandbox to pre-test materials before they launch. The Virtual learning environment (VLE) will be housed at the Center For Connected Medicine (CCM) at the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center (UPMC).They will be working with HIMSS and the actual materials will be stored on a server provided by the IBM corporation at the CCM. Currently, a content management committee is pulling together educational materials that already exist from sources like the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and vetting other content sources for technical compliance. TIGER is also working on publishing rules for organizations for donating modules to the VLE. A new TIGER transition board is being put into place to manage the new TIGER Initiative Foundation and build on the current activities, contributions, and vision. The new board will be releasing the vision for the Foundation (including but not limited to the VLE) in the near future, including plans to take this effort global.