Online course to map challenges, opportunities of healthcare in digital age

When I started at Baylor College of Medicine as an intern in 1991, I had no idea of the changes that were to come. The Internet, the mobile revolution, and the rise of wearable sensors is changing everything we understand about medicine. And for many, the digital health revolution is moving faster than we can keep up.

So I’m thrilled to announce the May 5 launch of Medicine in the Digital Age (#MedDig), a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) focusing on healthcare’s massive digital shift. The course is perfectly suited for those looking to understand the changes currently underway.

Medicine in the Digital Age is presented by Rice Online, the digital education wing of Rice University, in collaboration with Baylor. It will be delivered on edX, a leader in interactive online classes and MOOCs.

Challenges, opportunities of digital health

Medicine in the Digital Age will map out the challenges and opportunities facing healthcare in the networked age. We’ll explore social media in healthcare communication, the uses of wearable technologies, the potential for big data to reshape health behaviors, and the impact of these new developments on the doctor-patient relationship.

Participants will gain an understanding of the connected health revolution and tools to critically analyze this evolving ecosystem. More than anything we hope that Medicine in the Digital Age will launch a fresh conversation about what the future of medicine should be.

Expertise, global collaboration

Learners will have access to originally produced interviews and discussions with leaders such as Eric Topol, Roni Zeiger (former chief medical officer for Google) and many more. In addition to regular interaction with Professor Kirsten Ostherr (my Rice collaborator) and I, we’ve recruited some of the country’s brightest young digital minds to serve as teaching assistants.

Perhaps more powerful than any individual element in the course will be the ability to connect, discuss and debate the changes currently underway in health care. I truly believe that the forums and the social elements of our MOOC will define the experience of the learner. As a participant, your questions and conversations will help shape future versions of the course.

Why is this important?

Beyond a great course for free, Medicine in the Digital Age is important for Baylor College of Medicine:

It represents a significant step in online education. As medical education makes its move into the realm of new media, MOOCs represent one type of collaborative virtual learning. While this is Baylor’s first MOOC, an offering on neglected tropical diseases from the School of Tropical Medicine and Dr. Peter Hotez is in the works for the fall.

It showcases Baylor’s global reach. The reach of Baylor extends well beyond the borders of Texas Medical Center. Medicine in the Digital Age makes our cutting edge curriculum available to anyone on the planet with a broadband connection.

It represents Baylor-Rice collaboration.  This is the first major online collaboration between a major US medical school and a university. Medicine in the Digital Age showcases the collaborative strength of the Texas Medical Center in delivering ideas globally.

I hope to see everyone there. Medicine in the Digital Age is free to all Baylor faculty, staff, students and alumni. Just go to and register.

Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine

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