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I am speaking on a panel this Friday at Johns Hopkins at the MedBiquious Conference.  Sounds really cool, but it’s really pretty geeky stuff.  I am still studying up on the various “interface” standards this group sets.  I hope to post an update on my understanding and reflection after the conference. The MedBiquitous Conference is over a decade old.  Since 2001 members of this consortium have been working on developing a common technology framework for online systems to communicate with each other.  It is really about promoting systems communications and interface technology standards so that healthcare education (often referred to as CME or continuing medical education) can promote professional competence and in turn better patient care.  Here is what I think I know:

Goodbye CME Lectures in Hawaii

The medical education community is saying goodbye to the scenario where your doctor can take a vacation and listen to a speaker to receive CME credits for licensing or re-certification.  Health reform advocates are insisting that your doctor stay updated on the speed of change and advancement by demonstrating practice improvement.  This call for active learning is a good thing.  Clinicians are being asked to enroll in educational programs that require them to actively participate and demonstrate practice improvement.  This new CME philosophy and implementation requires numerous technology systems to talk to each other to be successful.  Hello MedBiquitious Standards!  And there are several types:  Activity Tracking, Profile Exchange, Web Services Guidelines, Meta Tagging Rules, SCORM M, Standardized Patient Case Study Format, and others.  It all reads a bit “big brotherish,” but when it comes to a license to practice, you probably want your doctor to be on top of the enormous speed of innovations in medical practice change.  And, computer data when shared can be a part of a quality improvement program; the risk of evil resulting from data accessibility is the trade off.

REMEMBER SCORM?

eLearning managers reading this post, well, SCORM should ring a bell.  So when you think of MedBiquitious Standards think of it as SCORM Plus Plus.  SCORM is a common language that allows one online course to be “seamlessly” loaded and communicate with any LMS.  It is code that provides the LMS with login information and quiz scores.  Among its many standards, MedBiquitious has a SCORM M for medical.  Yep, I told you this was pretty geeky.  The SCORM M is special information in the otherwise typical SCORM manifest which provides for medical information and other special information sent to the LMS.  It is all about interface coding for universal use and it should save thousands of “man-hours” of coders developing custom web services and custom profile transfer protocols.

USB for Tracking Medical Learning Activities and Learning Objects

This standards for interface code stuff is similar to a USB connection (who needs 20 different types of plugs) when one connection is universal.  This means that when a medical association has an AMS (Association Management System) that subscribes to MedBiquitious standards, data can be sent from the LMS (which subscribes to the MedBiquitious Standard ) without special custom coding or custom web services code.  The AMS can in turn send educational activity data to the licencing board or Registry System.  This supports the concept of e-portfolios where health professionals track their own professional development activities.  Another way these standards help is to provide special descriptive information or meta-tagging to learning objects: courses, white papers, and self pace exercises.  This enables a clinician to use a tool that searches a number of online sources to find sophisticated medical content; possibly while with a patient in a clinic.  How we label our medical papers and learning activities or paper based learning materials matter; again the USB concept for quick access—just in time when the doctor needs it.  Equally important is how we organize user profile data.  The MedBiquitious standard for profile data allows for consistency across multiple systems.   So this week’s conference in Baltimore Maryland should prove interesting.  I hope I have more to share with you next week.

Here is a good 2006 journal article on MedBiquitous.