Groundbreaking program in Health IT announced for 2013

Driven by the growth and prevalence of web and mobile technologies, the global healthcare sector is in the midst of a significant transformation. All over the world, low cost and effective solutions to major medical challenges are being discovered in mobile applications, smartphones, tablets and other devices – and the University of Melbourne is ahead of the (virtual) ball game.

Next year, for the first time, the University will offer a Master of Information Technology with a specialisation in health: a course intended to build a local understanding of how innovation in healthcare technology happens and, importantly, how to nurture these innovative processes.

The program has been introduced to meet the growing demand for IT professionals with expertise specific to the health domain and will be taught by the University’s experts in IT and by Health Informaticians from the Melbourne Medical School. It will offer a focus on the use of IT to process health information for purposes including improved individual health, healthcare delivery, public health, biomedical research, prevention of medical errors and reduced healthcare costs.

Professor Fernando Martin-Sanchez, Chair of Health Informatics at the Melbourne Medical School, says that the addition of this program will help transform the University of Melbourne into the most exciting health technology precinct in the southern hemisphere.

“Here at Melbourne, world-leading researchers are tackling major medical challenges by developing and deploying cutting-edge technology,” says Professor Martin-Sanchez.

“This program is perfect for creative students who are passionate about technology and its applications in solving real world problems.”

He expects that the specialisation will work to spur health IT innovation in Melbourne and encourage a growing entrepreneurial spirit within the local healthcare and medical community.

Hon Weng Chong, final year medical student at the University of Melbourne, shares this view.

As part of his degree, Hon spent a year studying at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University in the School of Medical Informatics in the United States. This experience exposed Hon to a culture of technological innovation he had not previously encountered, and ignited his passion for the ‘melding’ of medicine and technology.

Chair of Health Informatics,
Professor Fernando Martin-Sanchez

Upon his return, Hon founded StethoCloud: a mobile application focused on the diagnosis and monitoring of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases in the developing world. He and his team have just commenced clinical research at the Royal Children’s Hospital and prototypes of the product have been deployed to a number of countries, including Mozambique and Ghana.

The introduction of Health IT at Melbourne comes at an important time, as the rapid rise of mobile health management and diagnostic tools looks set to have a significant and lasting impact on healthcare practices and providers on a global scale – particularly, in the case of products such as StethoCloud, in the developing world.

“We are in the midst of a real revolution,” Professor Martin-Sanchez says. “We ignore it at our peril.”

For more information including course structure and program options, visit the Master of Information Technology website.