One of the most gratifying aspects of my work in informatics has been its international acceptance. I also enjoy my interactions with international colleagues, both professionally and personally. In addition, I obtain great satisfaction interacting internationally with students, whether they study under myself or others. All told, I enjoy making contributions that are known and valued around the entire world.
As I have written before, I have come to learn that many of the problems faced by informatics are global in nature, i.e., not unique to the United States. All who work in healthcare, public health, and research face challenges in collecting, organizing, and making best use of data and information. All types of information systems present challenges to workflow, usability, and value, among other things.
In recent years, one of my major collaborations has been with colleagues in South America, particularly in Argentina. One of these activities has been for them to translate my well-known 10x10 ("ten by ten") course into Spanish. They have offered the course all across Latin America, with nearly 1000 having completed it. The Spanish 10x10 course uses the same basic approach as my original course, consisting of a series of online units with an in-person session where students meet, learn more together, and/or present projects. While the original version of the Spanish course was a close translation of the English one, the content has now evolved to take on a more Latin American perspective. The core informatics issues are still global, but there are some regional differences, e.g., no delving into the details of HIPAA!
I am pleased to report that the collaboration with Argentina and its translation of the 10x10 course into Spanish has now come full circle, in that the Spanish course has made its way back to the United States via Puerto Rico. As Puerto Rico is fully eligible for funding through the HITECH programs, it has made efforts to help its eligible professionals and hospitals achieve meaningful use of electronic health records. One aspect of this has been the establishment of a regional extension center (REC), the Ponce School of Medicine REC (PSMREC). One of the activities of the PSMREC has been to bring informatics education to clinicians, and it has done this by engaging my Spanish-speaking colleagues and their version of 10x10 to create a new instance of the course, Certificado en Informática Médica para Puerto Rico. The course organizers invited me to participate in their in-person session in San Juan to kick off the course. I spent an enjoyable day with faculty and students, giving talks on the HITECH program as well as the secondary use of clinical data. I was also impressed with the backgrounds of the students taking the course, representing leaders from the REC, academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and others. It is always gratifying as an educator to help those you teach make a difference, which I am certain will happen in this course and what follows in Puerto Rico.
Another active collaboration involving the 10x10 course is in Singapore, with my colleague Dr. KC Lun of Gateway Consulting and the National University of Singapore. This offering of 10x10 uses my English version of the course, with my traveling to Singapore for the end-of-course in-person session. A total of 126 people have completed six offerings of the course over the last several years, with a seventh slated to start this month. I have enjoyed this offering of the course, both through the various people I have met in the Singapore healthcare community as well as the chance to learn about the Singapore healthcare system, which delivers high-quality care at about one-half the per-capita cost of the US.
I also remain active internationally in a number of other ways. I have served for six years as Chair of the Health and Medical Informatics Education Working Group of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA). I am a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Medical Informatics. I serve on a number of institutional advisory committees in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
I cannot deny that being able to travel to many of these places has been one of the best perks of my job. Although the real beauty of this travel is that I do not just visit these places as a detached tourist. Rather, I enjoy being welcomed into the work and even home environments of my colleagues. I value seeing firsthand the informatics-related work that they do. I look forward to continuing my work with all of them.