Partnership fuels cutting-edge training in health care technology
Palm Beach State College has formed a creative partnership with Modernizing Medicine and the Quantum Foundation to bring health care training to the new Dennis P. Gallon Campus at Loxahatchee Groves.
Modernizing Medicine is bringing its cloud- and tablet-based electronic medical records system, while the foundation is funding a zSpace virtual reality teaching system. The first 50,000-square-foot building on the 75-acre campus on Southern Boulevard, near Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, opens in the spring.
SFBW gained insight into the collaboration during a roundtable discussion with college president Ava L. Parker, Modernizing Medicine co-founder and CEO Dan Cane, and Quantum Foundation president Eric M. Kelly. SFBW Editor Kevin Gale was the moderator.
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Tell our readers about the new campus.
Parker: There was this great anticipation by the board and former President Dennis P. Gallon that there was going to be 10 percent growth in Palm Beach County, led by the western part. The thought was, “Let’s be an anchor at the start of growth.” We studied what is happening in the western part of the county—what kind of jobs it needs. The top ones are either in hospitals or doctors’ offices.
The campus will be home to our Bachelor of Science in nursing degree, health information technology associate in science degree, health informatics specialist certificate, medical information coder/biller certificate, and medical transcription technical diploma.
What sort of technology will the students be using in the program?
Cane: We are providing the touch-based systems, both Apple’s iOS and Android, and the entire suite of mobile and cloud. The software comes baked in with medical knowledge and automates coding.
The design of the building provides tremendous flexibility. It has learning spaces and collaborative workspaces that are designed to be wireless and use cameras. Behind the learning space is a mock clinic. You can only fit so many students in a mock clinic, but, using telepresence, you can have a student and instructor in the clinic and the rest of the class across the hall.
Kelly: We’re excited to be funding a unique learning lab that helps immerse students in the educational experience. We’re underwriting the inclusion of zSpace technology into the school’s medical training lab. This is a 3D, virtual reality system that enables students to actually navigate through systems and organs in the human body, for example, and to see them from an internal, 3D perspective.
You can imagine how that enhances the understanding of the structure of the body and its processes in a whole new way.
It’s a radical departure from the old textbook days we all experienced as students. This technology is cutting-edge, but it’s the way people are going to learn about complex fields like medicine in the future.
This is new to Florida schools. It’s rare for schools to be able to afford it, but a flagship campus like this should be able to boast unique learning opportunities like this lab.
Parker: This is an interesting building because there are no wet labs. We had to find ways for students to have lab experience, and we have. With the relationship we have with the Quantum Foundation, we can use technology to make sure the students all have the same experience.
We have put together a framework that is going to adapt and change beyond what we know now.
Give our readers an idea of the size and scope of Modernizing Medicine.
Cane: Modernizing Medicine started 6½ years ago. Today, we have over 500 employees and north of $85 million in revenue. The vast majority of employees are in South Florida with a headquarters in Boca Raton and an office in Weston.
We have expanded after we initially focused on dermatology and ophthalmology. We are the market leader in gastroenterology and the No. 1-rated product in plastic surgery.
Modernizing Medicine seems very tied-in with local colleges and universities. Dan, I see you are headquartered at the Florida Atlantic University Research Park and are vice chairman of the Board of Trustees at FAU. What opportunity did you see to create a win/win with Palm Beach State?
Cane: We had partnered many year ago on ophthalmic technicians—the people that work in and around eye surgery. We provided Palm Beach State with our technology and support so they could create a program around this training. Almost 50 have graduated and 100 percent had employment offers before they were done. We will be able to scale and have a pipeline directly into the college.
What is your perspective on the size of the talent pool in the medical records and health care information field? Is there a shortage of people?
Parker: Our research would suggest there is a great demand for this type of employee in the western part of the county. When you look at top jobs, medical office was No. 1.
Cane: We are living longer lives and we are not creating any more physicians than we have in the last 100 years. If you can’t meet increasing demand, technology can help overcome that.
Tell our readers a bit about the background of the Quantum Foundation.
Kelly: We were created out of the sale of JFK Medical Center, which provided $150 million for the foundation. During over 20 years of grant-making, we have given away $120 million to over 450 Palm Beach County nonprofits. Our health focus is access, education, workforce and meeting the basics needs of people to support their health. Because we’re a hospital conversion foundation, we’ve always had health at the heart of our mission, but we like fresh ideas and partnerships so, increasingly, we want to work with partners in business and technology who are promoting health solutions.
At the same time, this project will serve under-represented groups and give them unique opportunities to excel in health-related fields by virtue of receiving a state-of-the-art education close to where they live. And that’s currently a strategic goal we’ve prioritized at the foundation.
What are local philanthropy’s hopes for a partnership like this?
Kelly: Our hopes are for the local students. Our hopes are for the underserved young people of the western part of the county. This partnership is really a gift of opportunity for those young people.
It brings a world-class learning institution within their reach, geographically, and it brings a challenging health-based career within their reach, psychologically. It’s no longer a three-hour commute each day to get to school. It makes things manageable and attainable. Our hope is that the young people from this area will train in healthcare-related fields and then stay to practice in their home communities where they’re desperately needed.
What sort of salaries can graduates expect to earn?
Cane: Our salaries for right out of school range from $35,000 to $90,000, depending on your proficiency and ability to hit the ground running.
What do you think this means for South Florida?
Kelly: It means general market growth in the fields of education, technology and ancillary services. This kind of development enhances the area as a region of medical advancement in the state. The big picture is that opportunity is going to be nurtured here and innovation is going to be encouraged. ♦