By Wendy Sarubbi | August 1, 2012 10:57 am

The CEO of a national partnership working to accelerate the use of electronic health records visited the College of Medicine July 26 to see how the medical school is educating students with the latest technology.

Kate Berry, CEO of the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC), joined leaders from InfoComm International, the association serving the professional AV communications industry, in touring the college’s Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, Clinical Skills and Simulation Center, and Anatomy Lab. During the tour, the group learned that the library’s collection is 98 percent digital, saw a virtual patient demonstrate cranial nerve damage and saw how overhead computerized television screens help students learn about the human body during dissection. Later, the group visited the college’s Regional Extension Center, which is helping Central Florida primary care physicians adopt and use electronic health records to improve patient safety.

NeHC works with health professionals, patient and consumer advocates, academic medicine and government agencies to remove barriers to universal adoption of health IT.

“As America embarks on improving health care, Health IT must be the bedrock for this transformation,” said Jeanette Schreiber, the College of Medicine’s associate vice  president for medical affairs, chief legal officer and chairman of the Central Florida   Regional Health Information Organization. “We need a Health IT system that allows providers and patients to share data in a reliable and secure way and to use that  information to improve the health of us all.”

One of NeHC’s areas of focus is increasing the use of Health IT in medical  education. At the medical school, visitors were introduced to iPads loaded with interactive digital textbooks. They saw software that shows students a 3-D brain and other systems that allow students to hear and feel the sounds of a beating heart. As the visitors studied on their iPads, the College of Medicine Boardroom was filled with stereophonic heartbeats. Public Services Librarian Shalu Gillum explained that this year  the library is providing digital, interactive versions of 10 medical school textbooks that allow students to test themselves on content, review videos, and receive the most-up-to-date research – all at their fingertips.

Dr. Julia Pet-Armacost, associate dean for planning and knowledge management, discussed the medical school’s learning systems that are specifically designed for  millennial learners, students born between 1981 and 2001 who have grown up with technology and are “digital natives.” Those systems include computer-based testing, electronic access to curriculum content and a Faculty Collaboration Center that helps faculty make use of technology in their teaching.

Third-year M.D. student Bobby Palmer demonstrated an open-source electronic health record system that he created as part of his Focused Individualized Research Experience  (FIRE). The system is designed to organize and track health care given to patients during medical mission trips. Bobby, who has traveled extensively overseas, said the goal of the electronic records is to track and coordinate patient care as different groups volunteer in impoverished areas to help improve community health. In December, College of Medicine M.D. students and faculty used electronic records in treating 125 patients in the Dominican Republic. The medical school group will use the same record system to help 300 to 500 patients during their visit this month.

Reaction from the visitors ranged from “Wow” to “Wonderful,” “Fantastic” to “Amazing.” As CEO Berry explained, “You’re leading edge. It’s great.”

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