AMIA has been advocating for the Standard Occupational Code (SOC) Classification System to include a unique code relevant to medical informatics for a decade. We previously proposed three but two were denied due to “lack of evidence.” Health Informatics occupation (29-9021), HIM occupation (29-9022) and Health IT occupation (29- 9023). One of these did succeed, which is a big win. It wasn’t the informatics-specific one, but the Health IT code, which is still a win for us because it was the result of our advocacy.
The SOC Code is the United States’ Government’s system of classifying occupations. O*NET is an online database that contains hundreds of job definitions to help students, job seekers, businesses, and workforce development professionals to understand today’s world of work in the United States. It was developed by the Department of Labor (DOL).
Historically, the United States had the Dictionary of Trade, which was focused on blue-collar jobs. This Dictionary developed into O*NET with the changing professions and SOC was eventually developed in 2006. O*NET and SOC are largely aligned, but O*NET is a bit more specific and has a few more codes than SOC due to this transition.
DOL, which developed O*NET and is the larger agency within which the Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) sits. BLS collects, analyzes, and publishes reliable information on many aspects of the U.S. economy. OMB is the agency that publishes the SOC solicitation. We are working on finding a relevant contact there.
Where are we now?
While a unique Informatics SOC code was our goal, there are many other, potentially better wins that are more achievable. The DOL has told us that SOC codes require an entirely unique field. If someone working as a nurse informaticist, as an example, is using the SOC, they will be coded to nurse, not informatics. As such, the SOC code structure is flawed. Other achievable wins that will support the Informatics field are:
- Adding phrases to existing O*NET codes such that when those phrases are searched, the government captures data
- Gather materials members can use as a benchmark of the field today
- Document AMIA’s ongoing effort in this area
- Submit the OCA Application to O*NET with the goal of creating either a new O*NET code or, more likely, substantiating the existing codes such that O*Net can capture data on work being done in the field
- Draft comments to the SOC Policy Committee when they solicit input on the SOC Code (anticipated: May 2024)
- Point out the flaws of the SOC Code system for adequately capturing many fields in the modern workforce
- Advocate for the need to more adequately address clinical informatics
- Draft comments to the SOC Policy Committee when they solicit their second round of input (anticipated: 2026)
- Potentially meet with the SOC Policy Committee
- DOL released updated SOC in 2028 (anticipated)
Anticipated Timeline of Updating the SOC System
|1st Fed Reg notice soliciting public input
|May 2024 – July 2024
|SOCPC reviews input, research
|2nd Fed Reg notice requesting comments
|July 2026 – September 2026
|SOCPC reviews comments and develops final recommendations
|OMB reviews SOCPC recommendations
|3rd Fed Reg notice announcing the final 2028 SOC structure, and occupation codes and titles
|OMB publishes 2028 SOC Manual
|Federal stat agencies implement