School of Medicine gets access to new technology, curriculum

UConn School of Medicine has been selected by the American Medical Association to join a medical school consortium. (The Daily Campus/File Photo)

The American Medical Association has selected UConn as one of 20 new members in a medical school consortium that hopes to “reshape the medical school of the future,” according to a UConn Health news release.

UConn is joining 30 other medical schools in the Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, which AMA organized in 2013 to share technology and curriculum between the country’s top medical schools.

“Our goal throughout this initiative has been to spread the robust work being done by our consortium to accelerate systemic change throughout medical education,” AMA CEO James L. Madara said in a press release. “By tripling the number of schools participating in this effort, we know that we will be able to more quickly disseminate the consortium schools’ innovative curriculum models to even more schools.”

Dr. Melinda Sanders, UConn School of Medicine’s associate dean for undergraduate medical education, curriculum and faculty development, said she is excited for UConn students to gain access to real electronic medical records organized by Indiana University and sorted for student use in the classroom.

“What they’ve been able to do is to change all that private health information to something that’s similar, but you can’t identify the patient,” Sanders said. “We’re going to be able to use that 10,000-patient database to help our students both use the electronic medical record, but also look at patient diseases across many individuals.”

Indiana University was one of the 11 founding members of the consortium, in part because of this advanced database.

Sanders said a computer algorithm in the database has the ability to take any patient and adjust their name, date of birth and other sensitive details before students are able to see them. The algorithm is essentially designed to preserve the character of the patient without revealing the identity to the student accessing the data.

For instance, Sanders said the computer would assign a Puerto Rican patient another common Puerto Rican name and a slightly adjusted birthday, allowing students to see the age and ethnicity of the individual without infringing on privacy rights.

Currently, students at the medical school only have access to live patient data not organized in any database, Sanders said. This will give the students a permanent searchable database, fundamentally changing the way classes can and will be taught, according to Sanders. She said the medical school will shift to team-based and active learning as a result of the new technology and resources that are going to be available.

“There are huge changes in health care delivery going on,” Sanders said. “As a result, almost all the medical schools across the country are revising their curriculum.”

Sanders said the changes will lead to a greater interconnectedness between different medical fields. She added that the university has already had its first “interprofessional” large group day, with dental, medical, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy and social work students working together.

Full implementation of new curriculum and technology made available to the UConn School of Medicine will begin in August 2016, according to Sanders.

Along with joining the consortium, the UConn School of Medicine will receive a grant of $75,000 over the next three years from the AMA, according to the UConn Health news release. Sanders said this will primarily be used for travel to AMA networking events with the other universities.

UConn applied to be one of the founding members of the consortium in 2013, but fell short after being named one of the finalists, Sanders said.

The AMA said UConn was selected this year in part because of its ability to develop a partnership with Indiana University.

“The new schools selected to join the consortium will work together with the 11 founding schools to identify and share the best models for educational change and quickly spread these innovations to other medical schools throughout the country,” according to AMA. “The national advisory panel that reviewed the proposals deemed that UConn’s project proposal was a good fit in building upon IU’s teaching electronic medical record.”

Some of the other 19 schools selected for the consortium’s expansion include Harvard Medical School, Emory School of Medicine, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.


Kyle Constable is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable.