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Health Science Grad Students Present Healthcare Informatics Capstone Posters

Exercise helps students prepare for real world scenarios

The heat was on six Sacred Heart University graduate students who were charged with presenting their Healthcare Informatics capstone posters to faculty recently. Their work, shown at SHU’s Cambridge location in Trumbull, is a requirement for graduation and was developed over the 12-week semester. These six were the first of 50 students in the program to meet all other requirements and reach the final poster presentation stage.

Many of the students are international, and most will go on to clinical informatics roles in a health system, like Stamford Health or Yale-New Haven Health, according to Stephen Burrows, chair of SHU’s Health Science and Leadership department. Burrows defined “informatics” as leveraging technology to improve the quality and safety of patient care.

Students chose their topics in consultation with faculty and were judged on literature sources, the support of their hypotheses and the practicality of their proposed project. “They have worked very hard,” said Burrows. “The posters are a deeper investigation of the internships in which they’ve participated.”

Nikhal Angirekul proposed an application called “My Health Tracker” to support diabetic patients. “It’s different than other apps in the market, providing an educational element allowing patients to gain information on their specific condition to aid them in discussing it and treatment with a healthcare giver,” Angirekul explained. “Another portal allows them to make appointments with providers at regional hospitals. The result is improvement in the quality of care.”

Angirekul aims to be a healthcare analyst in a hospital environment. “Immediately, though, I want to implement this type of application at hospitals in my home country of India,” he said. “Right now, there’s much information there, but it is not organized in a way to be useful.”

Another student, Jordan Allen, developed a literature review of some potential keys to solving problems with effectively maintaining electronic health records (EHR). “Concerns include privacy, interoperability, data, coding and IT support,” Allen said.

His career goal is to be an EHR consultant. “I initially wanted to be a hospital administrator, but I have a good understanding of technology, and my program here at SHU really helped me hone my career direction,” Allen said.

Lisa Avellino, an adjunct instructor at SHU teaching the capstone course, was one of the project judges. She said the poster exercise was excellent preparation for the students as they enter the job world. “When you are in front of an executive group like here, you have a small amount of time to get across information, like statistics and visuals, quickly and concisely,” Avellino said. “This is invaluable preparation that benefits them. The work often sounds good on paper, but is a challenge to present fluidly, so this is a good, safe-zone practice environment. Five or 10 years from now, when they are in a meeting, hopefully they will remember this experience in a positive way.

“By the time students are ready to graduate, they will have had exposure to professionals through internships and finessed their research skills,” she added.

To view additional photos from the event, click here.