Looking at the ‘iMedEd Initiative’

Exhibiting an exemplary program utilizing Apple technology, the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s innovative educational program, the iMedEd Initiative, was named a 2013 Apple Distinguished Program on Feb 11.

This title is awarded to programs that successfully integrate Apple’s technology into educational curriculums by bringing mixed media into the classroom. This integration of technology into education must then promote leadership, innovation and educational excellence in order to be recognized.

Ever since its induction in 2010, the iMedEd Initiative has drawn attention to the UC Irvine School of Medicine, which became the first medical school in the country to enact a completely digital, interactive learning environment for its students through the use of iPads.

“The digital platform has enabled us to effectively respond to this responsibility in a manner heretofore unimaginable. By having all aspects of our medical school curriculum on iPad, learning becomes a 24/7 opportunity no longer tied to the classroom or a desk,” Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, dean of UC Irvine’s School of Medicine, said.

With the help of the John and Mary Tu Scholarship Fund, incoming freshmen are given new iPads, equipped with digital textbooks, podcasts and other clinical material for the students’ studies, which the first and second-year medical students heavily utilize. In their third and fourth years, students are able to bring these iPads into hospitals, using them during their clinical rotations.

These iPads have proven useful in this capacity as they also carry applications that enable students to perform portable bedside ultrasounds and other bedside monitoring activities.

In an effort to further a unique, flexible learning environment for the students, the School of Medicine teamed up with the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences to kick start the world’s first “Med App-Jam.”

This event brought together 100 medical students and information and computer science students to create 19 Apple-based applications that could be used in the health care field.

One such application has been used with tremendous success in Mexico, with the School of Medicine’s chapter of Flying Samaritans — a non-profit organization that delivers needed health care services to communities in rural Mexico. Chapter members travel to a self-established and self-run clinic in Valle Redondo, located 30 minutes away from the US-Mexico border.

With the help of the student-created application, the Flying Samaritan members are now able to transfer electronic medical records from iPad to iPad through the use of bluetooth technology — allowing them to work despite the lack of wireless internet in this region of Mexico.

These records enable medical professionals to keep and access specific patient records whenever, and wherever they are — helping health care providers pull up patient charts much faster and easier so as to be able to provide a higher level of care.

“This has greatly enhanced the efficiency of the clinic and the longitudinal health care we seek to provide,” Jacob Blickenstaff, a second-year medical student at UC Irvine’s School of Medicine and the Flying Samaritans’ former president, said.

Through the integration of technology like iPads into clinical settings, groups like the Flying Samaritans  showcase how UC Irvine has begun the transition of moving the medical field toward technology-based patient care.  According to Blickenstaff, the future of iPad technology in the medical field lies primarily with electronic medical records.

“I really honestly think that myself as a second year, I don’t really understand the full potential of the iPad, and I won’t until I get into the hospital, because where it’s really going to shine is being able to use electronic medical records and that’s going to be phenomenal, just because we can pull up patient charts whenever we need it and we’re not going to have to be carrying around charts everywhere,” Blickenstaff said.

“I think that’s going to be the crucial factor where the iPad’s going to come into play.”