Graduate Faculty Focus | Timothy Coffin
"I decided to teach at Hood College because I was impressed by the College's vision and commitment to provide quality education in the field of health informatics. Hood is one of the few institutions that recognized the need and potential of this emerging discipline, which combines information technology, healthcare and data science to improve health outcomes and reduce costs."
Timothy Coffin, Ph.D.
- Bioinformatics (M.S.)
- Health Informatics (M.S., Certificate)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
Timothy P. Coffin, Ph.D., serves as the director of M.S. in health informatics and bioinformatics programs at Hood College. He is the founder and chief executive officer of Celtiq, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in government healthcare solutions. With expertise in health research science, particularly in knowledge discovery and health informatics, he has provided strategic counsel to various federal entities in the realms of healthcare, technology innovation, national security and counter-terrorism measures. Coffin’s consulting work extends to multiple federal departments and organizations, including the military, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NIH, NLM, FDA and the Federal Reserve, among others.
Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background.
I’m passionate about the intersection of healthcare, data and technology. I’ve spent more than three decades in the healthcare and technology space, working with some of the biggest names in the industry. This includes federal health agencies like Health and Human Services (HHS) and Veterans Affairs (VA). My journey has been all about making a positive impact through healthcare, data mining, machine learning and artificial intelligence. I've got a Ph.D. in health services research, knowledge discovery and health informatics, which has been instrumental in my career.
I’m not just about theory; I’m a hands-on person. I’ve been involved in identifying requirements, designing and implementing technology solutions for large organizations and government agencies. I’m all about driving the development and execution of AI tools and concepts to deliver real business value. I’ve also been a trusted adviser and thought leader for government decision-makers.
I’m currently the CEO/president/founder of Celtic Consulting, LLC, where we focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning projects, health policy, data mining and more for federal agencies. In my various roles, I’ve had some exciting experiences. For instance, I’ve developed AI models to predict rare diseases, identify opioid addiction, determine optimal prescriptions for depression and even help with suicide risk among veterans. I’ve also used AI to streamline medical review processes, significantly reducing review times.
What led you to teach at Hood College?
I decided to teach at Hood College because I was impressed by the College’s vision and commitment to provide quality education in the field of health informatics. Hood is one of the few institutions that recognized the need and potential of this emerging discipline, which combines information technology, healthcare and data science to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
I was hired by Hood to design and build the health informatics program from scratch and to get it approved by the relevant accreditation bodies. This was a challenging and rewarding opportunity for me, as I had the chance to shape the curriculum, recruit faculty and establish partnerships with local healthcare organizations. I am proud of what we have achieved so far, and I look forward to continuing to work with Hood to make the health informatics program a success.
What got you interested in the topic of health informatics?
I got interested in health informatics when I realized how much data is generated and used in the healthcare sector and how much value can be extracted from it. I have always been fascinated by the applications of information technology and data science to solve real-world problems, and health informatics is a perfect example of that. Health informatics is not only about managing and analyzing data, but also about improving the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare delivery. It is also about empowering patients and providers to make informed decisions.
How would you describe health informatics to someone who has never heard of it?
The health informatics profession is the Rosetta Stone of the healthcare profession. Health informatics is a specialized field within the healthcare industry that combines communications, information and healthcare with the goal of improving patient care. Health Informatics professionals use resources such as health information systems to collect, store, retrieve, analyze and utilize healthcare information for a variety of purposes. The field involves enabling better collaboration and coordination among healthcare providers, streamlining medical quality assurance processes, improving cost-efficiency in healthcare delivery and increasing accuracy and efficiency in facility/practice management.
Graduates of health informatics programs have excellent earning potential, with professionals earning a median salary across the U.S. of $105,000. Health informatics is instrumental in improving patient outcomes and offers several career paths that support other positions within the healthcare industry. Upon graduating from a health informatics program, students will have been taught to take on a wide variety of roles, such as automating clinical care, building new operational data systems and training healthcare workers in the use of computer systems.
What are your hopes for this new program?
We hope to grow this program and faculty to become a source of health informatics professionals for the DMV area as well as internationally. Additionally, we would like to develop an effective research program to provide opportunities for students to get hands-on practical experience. We are preparing the first classes for spring 2024, and our first semester should have 10-20 students.
What career opportunities will this program provide to our graduate students?
The field of health informatics is dynamic and continually evolving, offering a variety of opportunities for professionals with expertise in healthcare and information technology. Graduates can choose roles that align with their interests, skills and career goals, making it a versatile and rewarding field to enter.
Graduates of the health informatics program can pursue a wide range of career opportunities in the rapidly evolving field of healthcare and technology. These include executive positions like CEOs, clinical informaticians, healthcare data analysts, healthcare consultants, telemedicine specialists and more.
What do you hope that students learn and take away from the program?
What I hope they’ll take away is an understanding of health information systems and how to analyze and collect data. I hope they understand which questions to ask to drive the healthcare program in a positive direction. Asking the right questions is important for finding the best solutions. I would like for them to be able to communicate with data technicians, doctors, nurses and business professionals.
What would you say to curious students to encourage them to enter the health informatics program?
An information technology or healthcare background is not required but is a plus on admission. Students with a relevant information technology or healthcare background are encouraged to apply. This is also good for prospective students planning to change their careers. For these students, it is also particularly important to describe in the goals statement how they envision themselves in the health informatics field.
Are there any fun facts or trivia about yourself that you would like to share?
I play hockey. I once fought Chuck Norris when I was doing karate in college, so that was fun. I’ve been to all 50 states. The longest flight I’ve ever taken was 38 hours. I own three Elvis costumes—just for fun, not as an impersonator.