Developing analysts from scratch – Australia’s first major in digital health & analytics

Apr 16
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I must say it is an exciting time to be working in the health sector! It is even more exciting to be involved in a brand new degree that hopefully provides a value-add for the health system.

The Australian healthcare system is a complex network of service providers, service recipients, and service organisations. While it has significantly transformed in recent decades, in response to an ageing population, an increased prevalence of chronic disorders, rising costs of care delivery, workforce shortages and changing consumer expectations, it is now preparing for an even greater challenge – that of digital disruption.

Unfortunately in 2016, hard as it is to believe, large sectors of the system continue to operate in a paper documented environment. This has severely hampered large scale data analysis – both in obtaining access to data (often across many silos that do not communicate with each other) and the time it takes to analyse the data once it has been procured. It has often been said that the health system is data-rich but information-poor due to these challenges. Health is now facing digitisation, with large scale electronic medical records and other information systems being introduced, in the hope that paper documentation will diminish and readily accessible data will be analysed with rigour and lead to improved decision making and improved health outcomes.

Graduates who can analyse data across disparate data sets

The Faculty of Health within the University of Technology Sydney see the need to ensure health has future graduates who are work-ready to competently manipulate and analyse data across disparate data sets, ensuring that the context of the data and the relationship to the service recipient remains intact. They will spend their first two semesters deconstructing the major elements of health and health systems, whilst the next two semesters will provide students with further specialised elements of health, but also prepare the scaffolding for the digital health and analytics subjects through three subjects – Communication and Technology; Arguments, Evidence and Intuition; Health Project and Program Management and Evaluation; and Data Science in Health Care. In their fourth semester, students will complete the first subject of their major – Foundations of Health Information Management. The four remaining subjects in the major will be completed in the final two semesters – Introduction to Digital Health, Health Analytics, Design and Evaluation in Digital Health, and Advanced Health Analytics.

The graduates of the Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Digital Health and Analytics will be entering the data-rich landscape of the health sector in 2018, having experienced the university-wide approach to learning, known as learning.futures. This model of learning promotes innovation in learning by integrating the best of online and face-to-face experiences, builds on the existing model of practice-orientated, research inspired learning for highly employable graduates in a global workplace, and aligns future-focused curriculum with informed technology use. It is anticipated that these employees will possess a holistic comprehension of heath data so that they improve decision making for the benefit of the healthcare consumer.

Jen Bichel-Findlay will be speaking on ‘Developing our analysts from scratch – an overview of Australia’s first major in digital health & analytics’ at the Data Analytics for Effective Decision Making conference this July. Book your place by April 22nd to save $500 on ticket prices.

Data Analytics for Effective Decision Making

Submitted by Jen Bichel-Findlay

Jen Bichel-Findlay

Jen has been employed in the health service industry for over 40 years in a range of clinical, educative, managerial, and project roles. She is committed to supporting major health reform through national and international innovation and e-health initiatives, and has a particular interest in how data and information are used by clinicians at the point of care and how data analytics impacts on health outcomes and efficiency of health service delivery.

She is a member of Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, an Associate Fellow of the Australasian College of Health Service Management, and a Fellow of both the Australasian College of Health Informatics and Australian College of Nursing. She has been associated with the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) for many years, fulfilling current secretarial obligations for the HISA board and chairperson responsibilities for the NSW Branch. Jen became a Certified Health Informatician Australasia (CHIA) in early 2014, and is the chair of the CHIA Examination Committee. She is currently the Director of Studies for Health Services Management in the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology, Sydney, and is leading the Digital Health and Analytics stream of the new Bachelor of Health Science which commenced this year.

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