In their words: Scholarly Concentration Q&A with Health Information Technology co-directors
In 2019, IU School of Medicine launched Scholarly Concentrations. To help students decide if a concentration topic is the right fit, concentration co-directors shared the inside scoop—from why they got involved in the concentration to how a specific topic can help students reach their goals.
Introduce yourself. Who are you and why did you decide to become involved in this Scholarly Concentration topic?
John T. Finnell, MD: As director of the Clinical Informatics Fellowship, I want to encourage and inform others about this informatics training opportunity. We use data every day to inform our decisions about the care we provide to our patients.
Brian Dixon, PhD: I am faculty at the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health and Director of Public Health Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute. My research and teaching focus on the development, implementation, and evaluation of information systems that enhance health care delivery and public health services in communities. Health information technology allows me to combine my passion for improving health with my love of cool, cutting-edge technologies that shape how we communicate and experience life.
Tell us about your experience related to the concentration topic.
Finnell: I am board certified in clinical informatics and am the physician lead for the IT needs of the Emergency Department at Eskenazi.
Dixon: I have worked on more than a dozen research projects in which we have either developed a new information system or evaluated the impact of an information system on health outcomes. My research has been published through more than 75 publications and more than 10 book chapters.
What are you most excited about in regards to Scholarly Concentrations and your concentration topic?
Finnell: We have worked with a number of students in the past on clinical informatics projects and look forward to sharing our enthusiasm about clinical informatics through the Scholarly Concentrations program.
Dixon: I always enjoy working with bright, talented physicians who are early in their careers. They bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to how we design and use technology to support care. I look forward to meeting more of these physicians who come and work with us.
What are the three most important or interesting things students should know about this concentration?
- You do not need a computing or programming background to complete this experience.
- If you are frustrated about how inefficient health care can be at times, this is a good concentration for you.
- This concentration facilitates students learning to work with EHR data.
How is this concentration beneficial to a student’s personal and professional goals?
- Regardless of what area of medicine that you will practice, you will have to work with a computer. It is important to provide feedback to health system leadership about the tools you need to use in order to support your work.
Some students may have a hard time deciding which concentration to choose. How can a student decide if this topic is the best fit for them?
- Are you interested in technology and providing the best possible clinical care?
- Are you interested in answering some cool research questions that use clinical data?
- Did you know the association between erythromycin and pyloric stenosis was based upon Regenstrief’s clinical data?
What are the special resources and/or expertise on this concentration’s home campus?
- The experience at the Regenstrief Institute is a dynamic, people-centered research organization driven by a mission to connect and innovate for better health. We envision a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health, and we pursue this vision through research and development guided by our core values: discovery, impact, people and community.
You provided some examples of potential projects for this concentration. Can you also provide some more details and examples of what one or two different projects could look like?
Topics will depend upon the area of interest or focus for the medical student. Our faculty have expertise in diverse fields and will provide guidance and insight for students.
An example topic: Development of a chest pain application where clinical data is pulled from a system and delivered to clinicians in real time. In other words, last EKG, last stress test, cardiac testing, etc. This is valuable because providers do not have to search for this data every time they see a patient with chest pain. Similar applications are being developed for pediatrics and other disciplines.