Physician leaders wanting to look under the hood of one of the nation's most high-powered healthcare information technology operations are being invited in for an extended view.
The Center for Information Technology Leadership, based in Wellesley, Mass., and an arm of Partners HealthCare System, the Boston-based consortium of Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, is offering a technology practicum, a chance to observe and participate in the top-level IT decision-making at both hospitals as well as the research projects under way at the CITL.
Practicum sessions run for a minimum of one week and could last as long as a month, according to Blackford Middleton, M.D., chairman of CITL. Attendees will have access to clinical- and information-systems strategy meetings, informatics seminars, clinical-systems product governance meetings, CITL project meetings, select hospital leadership meetings, and quality-management, decision-support and patient-safety meetings.
"There is a rich opportunity here to come and learn about those (CITL) research methods and how Partners does IT," Middleton said.
The program may be coordinated with the clinical-effectiveness summer program at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Middleton said the practicum will enable the CITL to diversify its activities beyond preparing and disseminating research projects. Earlier this year, the CITL released a study that concluded the establishment of standardized means of electronic healthcare information exchange would produce $87 billion in annual savings to the U.S. economy if fully implemented at all hospitals, physician offices and other care locations. Last year, the think tank reported that electronic ordering systems in the ambulatory-care setting would eliminate 2 million adverse drug events a year, avoid 130,000 life-threatening situations and save the U.S. healthcare system $44 billion. It is currently working on a project researching the use of IT in disease-management programs, Middleton said.
But practicum attendees will have their learning experiences tailored to their needs, with a backstage look at pending research as one option, Middleton said. The target audience for the program includes new chief medical officers or new mid-level healthcare professionals who want to learn about IT strategy and development as well as research, he said.
Kevin Leonard, the first fellow to complete the CITL practicum, is an associate professor of health research policy and management at the University of Toronto, where he teaches a master's and doctoral degree program. Leonard, who has a doctorate in statistics, spent five days in Boston last week, attending sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Prior to his arrival, Leonard said he sent in objectives for the session so that the week of meetings and one-and-one interviews could be customized to fit his educational needs.
"Blackford is really good at that," said Leonard, who added that he had sought "a good balance" of sessions on teaching, research and practical applications of technology.
"The specificity of the meetings and the details give you some insight, as long as you have the background," Leonard said. "Some of the issues are the same, both here and in Canada." For example, "I wanted to know how these guys here are merging (IT) systems and going ahead without driving costs through the roof."
For more information about the CITL practicum, contact Ellen Rosenblatt, program manager, at [email protected].