Kaiser Permanente to open medical school in 2020 with focuses on data, virtual reality

By Nathan Eddy
11:20 AM
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The school is designed to teach students how to use technology to deliver high-quality care in new and collaborative ways.
Kaiser Permanente building

Kaiser Permanente announced that it will open a School of Medicine in the summer of 2020, with a strong concentration on using 21st century technology to prepare physicians for healthcare in the digital age.

WHY IT MATTERS

Physician burnout is rampant — and today’s technologies, notably EHRs — are widely cited as being among the chief reasons.

It’s also worth noting, of course, that Epic Systems CEO Judy Faulkner last week at HIMSS19 countered that consensus by telling Healthcare IT News in an interview that recent research shows “there’s not a high correlation between happiness with the EHR and happiness with their job and the problem of burnout.”

At the same time, technologies are also viewed as holding the potential to restore humanity to healthcare and bring back the joy of medicine.

TECH ON TAP AT KAISER MED SCHOOL

Kaiser’s goal is training future physicians to become collaborative-ready leaders fluent in “data-driven care.” To that end, the school will provide students with longitudinal clinical experiences starting their first year.

On campus, the Medical Education building boasts immersive learning tools like collaboration boards, web conferencing, as well as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D technology.

The school’s Simulation Center allows students to engage in practicing foundational skills required to care for patients in a variety of real-world settings, including procedures, clinical decision-making, response to acute emergencies.

This includes the use of electronic health records and communicating with patients and healthcare team members. 

Students will also have access to multi-user touch-interface anatomy workstations allowing them to visualize and interact with thousands of actual human structures in 3D and cross-sectional views of the body.

THE BIGGER TREND

The use of VR and AR technologies is already in use on medical school campuses — in 2016 faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine began using VR for training in its Neurosurgical Simulation and Virtual Reality Center.

Meanwhile at the Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center, instructors use AR for various purposes, including teaching students how to interpret ultrasound imaging.

In addition to Kaiser’s immersive learning tools, the medical school building, scheduled for completion later this year, will house an ultrasound simulation for studying anatomy in lieu of traditional cadavers.

The building is capped by an open rooftop with facilities like fitness spaces dedicated to student wellness.

The school, which is based in Pasadena, also announced that it would waive all tuition for the full four years of school for its first five classes and will use a small-group, case-based medical curriculum.

Clinical education will take place primarily in the greater Los Angeles area in Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics and in partnered community health centers.

The school received its preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education today and will begin accepting applications this June.

ON THE RECORD

"We've had the opportunity to build a medical school from the ground up and have drawn from evidence-based educational approaches to develop a state-of-the-art school on the forefront of medical education, committed to preparing students to provide outstanding patient care in our nation's complex and evolving health care system," Mark Schuster, CEO and founding dean of the school, said in a statement. 

Edward Ellison, an executive sponsor and board member for the school, added: "Teaching physicians new and collaborative ways to practice medicine is critical to ensuring high-quality care in the future."  

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin. 

Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com

Twitter: @dropdeaded209