iSchool launches health program | The Triangle

iSchool launches health program

The iSchool at Drexel announced a new interdisciplinary Master of Science in Health Informatics program scheduled to launch September 2011.

The program comes from the Institute of Healthcare and Informatics at Drexel. However, the institute is not a degree-granting body; therefore, the iSchool arranged the degree. The academic senate approved the program mid-March.

“Healthcare informatics is basically the application of information science and information principles to health care,” Prudence Dalrymple, the program director, said.

The Master of Science in Health Informatics program focuses on clinical informatics and consumer health informatics. A large part of the program is electronic health record training.

Former President George W. Bush mandated that all U.S. health care institutions adopt electronic health recording systems for patients by the year 2014. Any institute that fails to do so will be penalized. However, there is monetary incentive for practices that adopt the system.

“About a year ago only 10 percent of hospitals had an electronic health system and only 17 percent of physicians had electronic health systems. So we’re now in 2011. How are we going to get to 2014? We need people who know this stuff,” Dalrymple said.

The electronic health system keeps logs of patients’ lab tests, x-rays, surgeries and any other doctor-affiliated issue in one place. This helps avoid medical errors and makes it safer and quicker for patients to receive medical aid. The records can be exchanged through organizations and follow patients wherever they go.

“People have great hope that electronic records will help reduce medical errors and improve help for patients’ safety,” Dalrymple said.

She also added that the younger generation going into clinical health is successfully handling the transition to the new system, but some older practitioners are not. The system is expensive and takes time to adopt into practices.

“This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while, and we have a certificate program, but it was really [iSchool] Dean [David] Fenske who said this is the moment. We need to seize the moment and we need to move forward with it,” Dalrymple said.

Dean David Fenske, Vice President of Research Kenny Simansky and Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions Gloria Donnelly were the administrative support for the launching of the program. Dalrymple and program coordinator Susan Palmer worked with the iSchool’s curriculum committee to develop the program.

MSHI consists of 15 classes, 10 of which are required. Three of the required courses are certificate courses, and the other seven provide a fundamental understanding of information systems and technologies.

The remaining five courses are electives. Students with a health background can take the last five courses to learn more technical information with the iSchool or more clinical information with the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Medicine.

Students without a health background must spend the last five electives in health environment practicum. It is also possible to place out of prerequisites depending on prior work experience.

More information about MSHI can be found on the iSchool’s website.