Chicago as Health IT Ecosystem
Spurring the idea for his second MScBMI class Health Care and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Kao recalls taking part in a medical innovation conference several years ago. Present as the associate chief medical information officer at UChicago Medicine, he found himself surrounded by professionals representing an array of different industries and professions whom he’d likely never have encountered at the hospital, despite all of them being connected to the health care area.
“Sitting there, I realized there was no reason why Chicago couldn’t become a technological innovation center similar to cities like San Francisco and Boston,” he says. “We have excellent business schools, engineering schools, law schools, and medical schools, so we have all the components you need to establish a health information technology ecosystem. It was just a matter of bringing people together and letting them see what others were doing.”
Carving Out Your Own Innovative Solutions
A key missing component to the success of such a possibility, he realized, was a primer course in which individuals with innovative health information technology ideas and solutions could learn how to plug themselves into that ecosystem. In the class, Dr. Kao shares with students the strategic steps that take you from developing an idea all the way to presenting it before a room of potential investors. Students work on either a quality improvement project or a business proposal and conclude with a final presentation that they’re later encouraged to submit, if applicable, to the various entrepreneurial challenges at UChicago.
“Several years ago, Chicago’s health information technology ecosystem was still very siloed and it was hard to navigate from one area to another,” he says. “A pipeline was needed connecting the various silos so that people could begin to learn about all that’s happening as a way to start working collaboratively. My course is just the beginning piece to that pipeline.”
“That’s really what I want students to take from my classes,” he adds. “I want them to develop the basic skills that will allow them to return to their workplaces and carve out on their own innovative solutions in the informatics and health information technology domains.”