Core competencies for clinical informaticians: A systematic review

Int J Med Inform. 2020 Sep;141:104237. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2020.104237. Epub 2020 Jul 24.


Background: Building on initial work carried out by the Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI) in the UK, the creation of a national competency framework for Clinical Informatics is required for the definition of clinical informaticians' professional attributes and skills. We aimed to systematically review the academic literature relating to competencies, skills and existing course curricula in the clinical and health related informatics domains.

Methods: Two independent reviewers searched Web of Science, EMBASE, ERIC, PubMed and CINAHL. Publications were included if they reported details of relevant competencies, skills and existing course curricula. We report findings using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement.

Results: A total of 82 publications were included. The most frequently used method was surveys (30 %) followed by narrative descriptions (28 %). Most of the publications describe curriculum design (23 %) followed by competency definition (18 %) and skills, qualifications & training (18 %). Core skills surrounding data, information systems and information management appear to be cross-cutting across the various informatics disciplines with Bioinformatics and Pharmacy Informatics expressing the most unique competency requirements.

Conclusion: We identified eight key domains that cut across the different sub-disciplines of health informatics, including data, information management, human factors, project management, research skills/knowledge, leadership and management, systems development and evaluation, and health/healthcare. Some informatics disciplines such as Nursing Informatics appear to be further ahead at achieving widespread competency standardisation. Attempts at standardisation for competencies should be tempered with flexibility to allow for local variation and requirements.

Keywords: Bioinformatics; Clinical; Core competencies; Health; Healthcare data science; Informatics; Pharmacy; Requirements; Skills.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Information Management
  • Leadership
  • Medical Informatics*
  • Nursing Informatics*
  • Professional Competence