Medical Schools in the Healthcare IT Age


     The American Board of Medical Specialties recently announced a new board certification in bioinformatics.  Medical students are exposed to medical statistics as it pertains to critiquing a study in a medical journal.  SOme are using medical apps to get their textbook information. However, they are now being plunged into a whole new world of healthcare IT which infiltrates  everyday aspects of clinical medicine.  They are starting clinical classes earlier in medical school than in years past.  Students must quickly become familiar with nuances of HIPAA laws, electronic medical records (present and future medical students will be graduating before the completion of Meaningful Use guidelines and implementation), and mHealth tools.

Some medical students, if exposed early enough, might even choose to pursue careers in healthcare IT before they graduate.  Demands for the first wave of clinician experts in healthcare IT (as is the case for healthcare IT employees in general) is and will remain high.  These physicians will themselves become educators for generations of students and IT employees.

I look forward to medical schools themselves offering non-physician track certificate programs in healthcare IT, highlighting clinical aspects.  This may be offered to persons with non-healthcare IT backgrounds, physicians, or non-physician scientists.  Programs like this will provide the insider clinical view, connecting the dots, which a college or community college cannot.  Imagine having multidisciplinary team patient rounds which include healthcare IT program students (whether they are from the physician or non-physician track).  Observing and participating in discharge planning and having exposure to real-time electronic prescribing, communications, and billing will stimulate students as well.  Connectivity will become a living process. Experiencing the prescribing of and following data from wireless technologies first hand cannot be duplicated in another way.  A dedicated faculty and tracks in healthcare IT might itself become a reason for some to go to medical school.

Let’s bring the enthusiasm that many of us have for healthcare IT to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and our teaching hospitals.  I was happy to hear that there were attendees from the AAMC at MHealth Summit 2011.  I hope their wheels were spinning as much as mine were.

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About davidleescher

David Lee Scher, MD is Founder and Director at DLS HEALTHCARE CONSULTING, LLC, which specializes in advising digital health technology companies, their partners, investors, and clients. As a cardiac electrophysiologist and pioneer adopter of remote patient monitoring, he understood early on the challenges that the culture and landscape of healthcare present to the development and adoption of digital technologies. He is a well-respected thought leader in mobile and other digital health technologies. Scher lectures worldwide on relevant industry topics including the role of tech in Pharma, patient advocacy, standards for development and adoption, and impact on patients and healthcare systems from clinical, risk management, operational and marketing standpoints. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine.
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