Case HIMSS Winners StoryStudents from three programs in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions Department of Health Services Administration won first place at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Student Case Competition.

The winning team consisted of Shafiqul Islam and Carole Richardson, both first-year Master of Science in Health Informatics students, and Heather Martin, a Ph.D. in Administration-Health Services student in the health informatics track. The team’s analyst is a dual MSHI / Master of Science in Health Administration – Executive Format student, Eddie Groom.

“This is an involved, intensive experience that consisted of reaching out to the case hospital to conduct interviews and to other health systems to get vendor pricing information in order to conduct their winning case analysis,” said Sue Feldman, Ph.D., director, UAB Graduate Programs in Health Informatics. “Regardless of the outcome, student-led, industry-sponsored opportunities such as the HIMSS Student Case Competition give students real-world experiences in time management, priority setting and independence far beyond what can be learned in the classroom.”

The UAB MSHI program is designed specifically for working professionals to earn a degree without giving up their job. Each of the three winners have full-time commitments in addition to their coursework. Islam is an IT project manager at UAB. Richardson is an informatics pharmacist at Emory Healthcare. Martin is a clinical data analyst and research assistant with UAB Medicine. Groom is an embedded design engineer at IBML.

With work and personal schedules, plus Richardson’s living in Georgia, most of the team’s work and preparation was conducted at night and on weekends using online group communication.

“I really appreciate and respect my teammates, and that strong bond got us through the most stressful of times, juggling the rest of our lives while working on our submission,” Richardson said. “The assigned case fit all of our expertise very well. That, combined with our group dynamic of mutual respect and the excellent mentorship offered by Dr. Feldman and Dr. Eta Berner, allowed us to each make valuable contributions to the project and trust the quality of each other’s work, freeing us up to excel individually and collectively.”

This is the third year that HIMSS has hosted a Student Case Competition. UAB MSHI teams increased position every year, placing third the first year and second last year before winning it all this year.

“Working in teams is never easy or simple, so to come together and to win the HIMSS national championship speaks volumes to their dedication to each other and their talent in informatics,” said Andrew J. Butler, dean of the School of Health Professions. “In addition to solving real-world problems, case competitions offer students an extraordinary opportunity to learn important skills necessary to succeed in today’s health care climate, and I am so glad our Health Services Administration faculty fully support these efforts.”

Each of the team presenters — Islam, Martin and Richardson — received travel and paid registration to the HIMSS20 Global Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, plus two night’s stay. The students will present their winning case at the conference during session 270 on Thursday, March 12, at 1 p.m. In addition, the students each received an honorarium.

Students in the MSHI program also placed in the top five of the American Medical Informatics Association Student Design Challenge and are next competing in the MITRE Anti-Fraud Competition. Islam and Richardson are members of the MITRE team.

The MSHI program at UAB is a CAHIIM-accredited online program serving working adults across the United States. The two-year program teaches the fundamentals of health informatics, data science, user experience and implementing innovative solutions. Applications for a limited number of fall admission spots close May 31. For more information, please contact Misty Altiparmak.