Part 3/3 on our series on technology at the UC Irvine School of Medicine

The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) recently announced a pilot program implementing Google Glass into their medical school curriculum, along with launching a fellowship for multimedia design and education and getting students involved with Khan Academy.

In our last article, iMedicalApps looked at UC Irvine’s accomplishments in implementing technology in medical education and in particular their recent implementation of Google Glass as part of their curriculum.

Warren Wiechmann, MD MBA, current associate dean for instructional technologies and an attending physician at UC Irvine Emergency Medicine, is leading these efforts to bring these tools into medical training.

Dr. Wiechmann further discussed another project to allow medical students to curate technology and medical content through a project called HealthEdIT.

What is HealthEdIT?

Warren Wiechmann: One of the things I [do] is to look into new trends and technologies. That’s my personal mission. I want to be that one step ahead. I have a very elaborate Google Alert setup, pushing to Feedly, and every day I get like 5,000 articles. I want to keep my finger on the pulse of education and healthcare and technology. But that’s another hour out of my day not doing something else. The more I talked with students, the more they said, “Can we help you find this content?” There’s a ton of new services out there, like Paperly and other social media aggregators, and they’re great because they can look at the most popular links and pull them into one resource.


The problem is that even though [I] now [have] a curated list of 20 great articles, you still have to read what’s going on with them. The headline is often good enough. It helps, but not completely.

So what I want to do with students is to bring that process to them, but take it into one more step, and [create] Twitter-length Cliff Notes of articles. You can go onto the [HealthEdIT] site and see what’s new, and instead of reading the article, you can read the summaries. That way it’s interesting to you, and you get a cursory view of what’s going on in [topics such as] East Asian medicine and see the top trending things there.

So it serves a nice niche, since one of the things I’m trying to teach faculty and students is not to know everything about technology, but have a grasp of what’s going on in general without needing two hours out of your day to do this.

We have a bunch of students who share this mindset and are interested in this, and it’s kind of like how iMedicalApps has staff writers. They go through content, post stuff up as well.

So HealthEdIT will be a hub?

Warren Wiechmann: We pull from everywhere. We’ll pull this out of Engadget, Wired, Google Alerts for wearable technology, [search phrases such as] “social media + physician”, and other search phrases.

That’s kind of the hard part. We cast such a broad net, since it includes things like a medical school opening up in India with a Twitter account, but that’s not as relevant. We cast a very broad net for all things in technology, but the whole point is to cast a big enough net so you know what’s going on.

But aren’t other people doing this? How is HealthEdIT different from other news hubs like Doximity DocNews or Medscape?

Warren Wiechmann: There’s a lot of link selection sites out there, like HealthTechOne. We did a Paperly account for hashtag #meded, so we get a list of links per week from Twitter, but you still have to read those articles. And I still love the long prose [articles] like iMedicalApps and other sites do — pick a topic, provide in-depth articles about that — but I want something in between. If I have 30 minutes to get a good overview of what’s out there, [I don’t want to have] to dive deep…[and] open up and read these articles. [With HealthEdIT,] you could hear about trends in general.

How do you sort through all this information?

Warren Wiechmann: I’ve opened up my workflow to all of my students. I literally will go through 1,000 links in Feedly per day and look at them and get 3 lines of articles… and if it’s not interesting, I’ll skip it. There’s a service Yahoo! bought from a 17-year-old [Summly] for $20 to $30 M, a news summary [app], that would crawl through all the top headlines of news and give a one-paragraph summary of news articles. It serves that purpose, giving a top-level summary.

You’re probably busy with all of these initiatives. Is there a way other medical students and others can help?

Warren Wiechmann: I would like to have more people to help us out and generate content [Note: readers can look into joining HealthEdIT here]. For our students, it’s been a good exercise, but they don’t really know how to go about this. Most people ask me, “Warren, that’s cool, I want to get involved!”

I’ve built and made a four-week elective for our medical students where they spend four weeks learning everything they can about technology in healthcare, provide summaries for it, and put together a technology project in their area of interest. We really could use more people who want to write for this and branch out to bigger and better things.

There’s an application there as to what people can do to get involved. For me personally, if no one reads this site, I would build one for students to do anyways. It is my workflow, so for me it has helped me, say, by editing the stuff they have out there, [and] it helps keep a pulse on what’s trending out there. I’m sure there are people in the iMedicalApps readership who want to learn more about things and talk about it on the website.

Technology is no longer for nerdy medical students to be involved with. I think the days of technology being just for computer nerds is long gone. Technology is going to affect everyone’s practice of medicine whether they like it or not, and instead of shunning it, we need to embrace it, whether it be social media, hack-a-thons, …. to get residents and faculty more comfortable with it.