A coalition of professional medical societies, universities, vendors and government agencies working to develop standards of communication for medical education and training has been anointed by the American National Standards Institute as an accredited standards development organization.
MedBiquitous, the not-for-profit coalition, was formed at the Johns Hopkins University in May 2001 in collaboration with the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Gastroenterology and the American College of Radiology.
It now claims 40 member organizations and agencies, according to Peter Greene, M.D., a cardiac surgeon at Johns Hopkins, where he serves as associate dean for emerging technologies and executive director of MedBiquitous.
Accountability and connectivity are two key reasons medical education needs something more than the ability to e-mail MS Word or PowerPoint documents, according to Greene.
"If, let's say, you're running a medical institution and you need to verify that Peter Greene has completed his conflict of interest training or research training, it's not good enough to send a PowerPoint," Greene said.
"I have to make sure he's taken a course, he's the person who logged in, I've given him a preassessment and postassessment and that he actually learned something in the course."
To do that, Greene said, requires the movement back and forth of information, and that requires standards.
Another goal is the real-time deployment of evidence-based decision support across various platforms of electronic clinical information systems, Greene said.
For example, "You've just seen a disease that you know nothing about and you have to make a decision on it. Or, maybe you're in the hospital and you've made an order and the system tells there is a drug reaction or you're out of compliance. You'll need a two-minute, three-minute, five-minute module that will bring you up to speed."
In both cases, the vendors of the clinical systems don't have to be the providers of the clinical information, but their systems must be compatible, and that's where standards are a prerequisite.
"This is not a fantasy," Greene said. "This is happening in the airline industry right now.
"You're going to be doing more and more healthcare learning with e-learning," he said. "That's just an inevitable trend."
ANSI is a not-for-profit organization that administers the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Other healthcare standards organizations that have are ANSI accreditation include Health Level 7 and the National Council of Prescription Drug Programs.