Thursday, July 16, 2020

Updated Informatics.Health

For many years, I have had a portion of my Web site devoted to an introductory overview of the informatics field entitled, What is Biomedical & Health Informatics? I originally created this site to provide an answer to that question I was asked from time to time. I still maintain and keep it up to date both to still provide an overview of the field as well as demonstrate the technology we use in our virtual courses.

Last year I had an upgrade of sorts, snagging the new domain name, Informatics.Health. With the 2020 updating of my larger course that is offered in the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 10x10 ("ten by ten") program, I have now updated the content of the What Is site.

The main part of the site is the nine lecture segments on the following topics:
  • What is Biomedical and Health Informatics? (1) (24:32)
  • What is Biomedical and Health Informatics? (2) (18:49)
  • A Short History of Biomedical and Health Informatics (22:30)
  • Resources for Field: Organizations, Information, Education (25:29)
  • Examples of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) (24:56)
  • Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (1) (14:15)
  • Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (2) (22:07)
  • Information Retrieval (Search) (23:18)
  • Information Retrieval Content (29:09)
One change this year is that the materials are only in HTML 5, dropping the use of Adobe Flash, which is being phased out at the end of this year. (The tool used to create the lectures is Articulate Studio 360.) The lectures can be viewed on just about any Web platform, and work fine on my iPhone and iPad.

The site also contains links to books, articles, organizations, and educational Web sites.

The materials on the site are freely available and have been used by many educators and others. An article from the American Medical Association (AMA) described their use by medical educators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Informatics Professor Goes Solar

This summer we installed solar panels on our roof at home. The timing was good since we needed our roof replaced, which enabled us to install solar panels right on top of it. Many people tend to think of Portland, Oregon as a cloudy place, but the summers are mostly sunny and, above the 45th parallel, the days are long. Of course, even when it is cloudy, solar rays still shine down on the Earth (and our solar panels). 
A natural question is the economics of solar energy for a home and location like ours. They are surprisingly good. Last year, our electricity use averaged about 600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month, which averages to about 20 kWh per day. We have always used more electricity in the winter than the summer, perhaps due to the summers being mild and the days of winter being short. We opted to install a system that would aim to zero out our electric bill. We could have added additional capacity to account for an electric car, but we are not looking to buy a new car at this time.

The system includes a reversible meter, so when the panels exceed our electricity use, the excess goes into the Portland General Electric (PGE) grid. While the excess rolls over from month to month, it does not roll over years. So we will likely build up excess production over the summer that will be offset in the winter. We will see for sure when our PGE bills start rolling in.

Our 24 solar panels generate up to 7.68 kW of DC power and 5.76 kW when converted to AC power. The system includes an app that allows us to track the energy generated by the system. It has some nice reporting features that allow us to compare different days. The app does not track how much energy goes into the grid, although we can read that off our reversible meter. The app also allows us to have a public Web page so anyone can look at the data for our system. While the app has more data to show, the public Web page does allow viewing of daily electricity generation:

As the solar electricity is purportedly cheaper than that delivered by PGE, the system is estimated save about $34,000 over its lifetime. It doesn’t hurt that we will get a 26% federal tax credit this year and additional incentives from the state of Oregon. All in all, we believe it is a sound investment not only in our house, but also in the global energy future.

Our energy usage will also be reduced by the 6.5-inch R35 insulation under the new roof. This will be beneficial both with our electronic air conditioning in the summer and our gas heating in the winter.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Kudos for the informatics Professor - Winter/Spring 2020 Update

Like many in the informatics field, the Informatics Professor has been very busy the last few months due to increased teaching and research activities taken on in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, I have not had a chance to provide one of my occasional kudos postings of accomplishments until now.

Before Covid-19 struck, I was elected President of the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics (IAHSI). The IAHSI is an international honorific society of leaders in informatics, and I look forward to assuming the Presidency in November, 2020.

Also before the pandemic, I was very busy with travel and talks:
Shortly after these talks, the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, and my travel came to an abrupt halt while my teaching and research activities accelerated. Due to the need for medical students displaced from clinical sites to have virtual learning activities, I gave several offerings of my introductory informatics course to both OHSU students (3 offerings to a total of 44 students) and non-OHSU students (8 offerings to a total of 178 students). Some educators and others also made use of the my What is Informatics? Web resource, which was featured both in an article as well as a list of resources for medical educators by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Another educational activity of note was OHSU’s hosting of the Informatics Training Conference for those holding biomedical informatics and data science training grants from the National Library of Medicine. The conference was held for the first time ever in a virtual format.

My research activities during this time mostly focused on the TREC-COVID information retrieval challenge, although I was also finishing up some papers (forthcoming soon!) and writing grant proposals for future research activities. We did publish some papers on TREC-COVID in both Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association as well as SIGIR Forum.

As always, I was busy writing both for scientific and other publications. In late 2019, I wrote an article about our informatics program for the publication of our local tech industry, Techlandia.

While the latter half of 2020 will be much prolific for publishing of book chapters and the new forthcoming fourth edition of my information retrieval textbook, I did publish in early 2020 an update of my chapter on clinical informatics in the second edition of the AMA textbook on Health Systems Science (Hersh W, Ehrenfeld J, Clinical Informatics, in Skochelak SE, Hammoud MM, Lomis KD, Borkan JM, Gonzalo JD, Lawson LE, Starr SR (eds.), Health Systems Science, 2nd Edition, 2020, 156-171).

While I hope to back off a bit over the summer, there is much in store for the rest of the year in both research and education.