12:35 - 1:20 pmSaturday, September 6
Plenary Hall
Fostering digital citizenship in the medical school curriculum - a look at four innovative programs
Plenary Hall
Fostering digital citizenship in the medical school curriculum - a look at four innovative programs
PhD, MPH, Professor of English, Rice University
Director of Digital Literacy, Baylor College of Medicine
Associate Clinical Professor, UCSF
Assistant Clinical Professor, UC Irvine
CEO EngagedIn, Health Engagement Designer
This is a turbulent time for medicine – technology is rapidly evolving and affecting not only the logistics of healthcare delivery but who has access to medical knowledge; healthcare policy and legislation... Read more


This is a turbulent time for medicine – technology is rapidly evolving and affecting not only the logistics of healthcare delivery but who has access to medical knowledge; healthcare policy and legislation challenges are impacting access to care; and physician shortages are compounding stressors to the system as a whole.  All of these factors have the potential to significantly impact the way that medicine will be taught and practiced within the next five to ten years and unfortunately, these issues are rarely discussed in the typical medical school curriculum.  Generally speaking, medical schools are not preparing medical students to be nimble, responsive, and connected physicians in this new era of digital medicine. The members of our panel have taken actions to address these gaps in the curriculum through the creation of innovative courses to augment the medical school experience:

In 2012, the Baylor College of Medicine launched their Digital Smarts course for interns to introduce broad concepts and initiate discussion concerning professionalism, safety, and mindfulness with social media.  With Dr. Bryan Vartabedian at the helm, the course has since expanded into a four-year, longitudinal curriculum for the Baylor medical students.

 At the UC Irvine School of Medicine, Dr. Warren Wiechmann launched theirHealth 2.0 + Digital Literacy elective in 2012 to address the lack of exposure that students had to emerging trends in healthcare technology and social media.  The course has expanded in its second year to provide a wider array of timely topics, including Genomics and 23andMe, Google Glass, and ePatients and Participatory Medicine.
In 2013, the UCSF School of Medicine began offering their WikiProject: Medicine elective for fourth year medical students under the direction of Dr. Amin Azzam.  The elective gave students the opportunity to curate and create content for Wikipedia while simultaneously teaching them about public authorship and digital citizenship.

The Stanford University School of Medicine’s Engage and Empower Mecourse launched in 2014 under the direction of Dr. Kyra Bobinet and focuses on patient engagement, what works and what doesn’t, and how including patients in the process can empower them to work with their healthcare team to improve care.

The panel will discuss their motivations for developing their courses, challenges that they faced in the course implementation, student feedback, and next steps. 

Kirsten Ostherr is a media scholar & design thinker who specializes in health and medical visualizations: historical, present and future. She is a Professor of English at Rice University and, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, she has recently completed a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Her work is focused on bringing media theory and health communication into a more powerful and beneficial engagement. Dr. Ostherr is especially interested in using new media technologies to enhance patient-centered care. 

She is also the Director and co-founder of the Medical Futures Lab, a collaborative center dedicated to reimagining medicine at the intersection of humanity and technology. They’re busy inventing digital medical humanities, experimenting with collaborative participatory design projects, and training the next generation of digital doctors there.

Her most recent book, Medical Visions: Producing the Patient Through Film, Television, and Imaging Technologies, was published by Oxford University Press in March 2013. Medical Visions explores how audiovisual media – from x-rays to 16mm film to television and the Internet – have trained both physicians and patients to see and understand health and disease. The book covers the entire 20th century, and peeks into the 21st – it is historical and theoretical, and it is meant to provide a useful framework for current medical professionals, educators, communicators, start-ups, and students to learn from the past to make the future better. Dr. Ostherr hopes you read it, enjoy it, and enter the dialogue. She looks forward to hearing your comments. See update on Medical Visions for the latest news and intriguing linkages with some of the best television ever produced!

Bryan Vartabedian teaches at Baylor College of Medicine where he is preparing students for health care in the 21st century.  He is co-founder of the Medical Futures Lab, a Rice University based collaborative exploring the ways that technology is changing the practice of medicine.  His thinking can be found at 33 Charts.

Amin Azzam, MD completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester, before starting medical school at the Medical College of Virginia.  During medical school, he participated in the inaugural year of the National Institutes of Health’s “Clinical Research Training Program.”  After completing medical school, he participated in the research track of the general adult psychiatry residency program at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry.  He then completed a two-year research fellowship in psychiatric genetics at the San Francisco Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, before discovering that his true passion was in medical education.  Deciding that 27 years of formal education just wasn’t enough, he went back to school for a two-year masters’ degree in education, at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on quantitative methods and evaluation.

Currently, he is director of the “Problem-Based Learning” curriculum at the UC Berkeley—UCSF Joint Medical Program, co-director of the “Foundations of Patient Care” course for first and second-year medical students at UCSF, and co-director of the “Health Professions Education” Pathway to Discovery at UCSF.

Warren Wiechmann is the Associate Dean of Instructional Technologies at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and the project leader for the school’s iMedEd Initiative (www.imeded.uci.edu), a comprehensive digital overhaul of the curriculum which uses the iPad as its centerpiece for curricular innovation.

He is interested in the mash-up of technology, medicine, and education.  He is also intrigued by the integration of technology to improve clinical workflows and efficiency, instructional technology and information design to enhance physician and patient education, mobile and asynchronous learning, the development of a medical student curriculum in informatics and instructional technology, digital literacy, and mHealth/eHealth/Medicine 2.0/Health 2.0.  

Kyra Bobinet, MD, MPH is the Senior Instructor-Researcher of Health Engagement in Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab.  In her current research, she researches the combination of engaging technology and its health benefits and risks.  Dr. Bobinet has empowered millions of individuals and families in all aspects of their holistic health for over two decades, through founding a behavior health non-profit, leading public health programs, and innovating as medical director of a national healthcare organization.

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