By Omer Gulzar
By writing about my experience in obtaining both the CPHIMS and the CPHIMS-CA credentials, I hope to provide some perspective and help other professionals who are interested in accelerating their career in the Health Information Technology Industry by obtaining these designations.
I used a number of resources to help me study for the exam. A list is provided below along with the approximate prices (not including tax):
- CPHIMS Review Guide: Preparing for Success in Healthcare Information and Management Systems, Edition 3 ($150)
- CPHIMS-CA Canadian Health Informatics Review & Reference Guide ($75)
- Core HI Education Online and On-Demand ($599-$700)
I did not utilize CPHIMS Exams Secrets Study Guide ($85)
- CPHIMS Review Guide – This was the basis of my study plan and contained the core study materials that I used to pass the exam. I decided to tackle the review guide in a non-conventional method – I planned to read the book twice. The first time was a causal read where I would read a few pages before bed and finish a chapter or two each week. This allowed me to get a general idea of all the knowledge areas and identify the areas which would require extra attention – this can be done in conjunction with the competency gap assessment tool provided by HIMSS . During my first read, I also attempted the questions at the end of the book as I got to the end of each chapter. When reading the second time over, I spent more time focusing on the chapters where I had identified knowledge area gaps previously.
- CPHIMS-CA Review Guide – This book covers details specific to the Canadian landscape. As I planned to write both exams, I followed a similar method as with the CPHIMS review guide and read this book two times, with an initial general read identifying areas to focus on during my second reading. Unfortunately, this book does not contain any sample questions, so I decided to make these questions myself at the end of each chapter.
- Core HI Education Class – This was a 4-week long class organized by Digital Health Canada in conjunction with HIMSS. It was broken down into 2-hour segments twice a week conducted over an online webinar. I found these to be quite helpful, especially since they came with a series of notes that helped organize the concepts from the CPHIMS review guide into a structured format. This proved to be an excellent resource for memorizing concepts and analyzing the current state of healthcare systems. You can read about the modules covered in this course here.
- CPHIMS Exam Secrets Study Guide – This was another resource I found online, but I decided not to utilize this resource. Truthfully, a lot of it had to do with the price. Although on its own it was less than $100, collectively with the cost of the other books, resources and online course and exam fee, I did not feel like shelling out another $100. I will say that by looking at the breakdown of the book, it looks like this book only talks about “how” to study for the exam as opposed to providing sample questions for the exam, and for this reason, I felt it was not worth my money. If you feel the need, I encourage you to go to your local library and borrow a book that will help explain the concept of multiple-choice questions and the best way to approach them.
I felt that I needed about three months to prepare for both exams and so I booked my exam sitting with Digital Health Canada at the Toronto location in 2019. In retrospect, three months were more than sufficient to review the outline and concepts for writing the examination. This also provided me with enough time to sit through the webinar series and spend my weekends of the last month of study to focus on the core materials and memorize any concepts that I missed during my initial study. Everyone has their own study style, but I found that unplugging from the internet and all my devices and going to the local library for the afternoon worked wonders for me. It allowed me to escape busy life for a while and focus on the task at hand.
Anecdotal study tips:
- Understand the relationships between health organizations
- Memorize acronyms
- Learn the concepts of databases, warehouses and marts
- Differentiate between standards (DICON, ICD-10, SNOMED-CT, etc.) and realize the need for these standards
- Understand compliance agencies and regulatory bodies
- Know basic mathematics and cost/benefit analysis, and resource allocation
- Understand the responsibilities and roles of C level staff of an organization
For readers who would like additional perspectives, I have provided links to three other blogs below that I found on LinkedIn. One is by Sandip Lahiri from 2012 and the other two are from 2016 by Raghuram Sampathkumar and Donald Cox.
In addition to working in the industry for a number of years, I had the added benefit of having a Master’s degree in the subject matter. Although the three months allowed me enough time to unwrap some specific concepts, I would recommend individuals with a more siloed engagement in their work experience to add an additional month if they need to dig deeper within the knowledge areas and gain a good understanding of the relationship between healthcare organizations.
Passing the CPHIMS examination ensures the practice of Health IT follows international standards of professional knowledge and competence, increases credibility and gives employers and teams a sense of commitment to continuing professional development. Finally, it also provides the individual a sense of leadership and personal achievement which helps excel the outcomes for industries in which health information management professionals operate.
I hope this blog helped provide some perspective and filled in some of the gaps that you might have encountered while looking to better understand the process and materials to use for your studying. I hope each of you shine bright and have a successful exam sitting. Feel free to ask any specific questions you may have regarding the CPHIMS. Best of luck in your endeavours!
Omer Gulzar M.Sc, CPHIMS-CA holds a MSc in eHealth from McMaster University. He has experience managing project in the area of software development. He works directly with clients to determine their vision for digital health products and helps manage the team’s development and QA efforts to support product delivery. Currently, he is working as a Systems Analyst at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Contact email@example.com if you have any questions about the CPHIMS-CA credential.