By Daniel Casciato

Mountasser Kadrie’s interest in the academic space and teaching was natural and meaningful. The healthcare industry is a vast and complex field needing forward-thinking and change agents to transform it and to build and support resilient organizations and communities, according to Professor Kadrie, a professor in the Executive and Online Master of Healthcare Administration at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

“With my many years of professional experience in the field, relevant knowledge of the U.S. healthcare delivery system, and deep understanding of core issues and competencies needed, I felt a strong need to share this knowledge and guide/mentor future healthcare leaders,” says Professor Kadrie. “I thought teaching and mentoring students/learners was and still is the way to do it.”

Professor Kadrie says he joined FAU because it is an incredible academic institution that supports student learning and success and progress

“FAU has great students who take their learning seriously and are challenged to become future leaders and change agents in their professional fields,” he says.

In his 25 years in the healthcare industry, Professor Kadrie served in various senior executive leadership positions at world-class universities and institutions with a deep affinity for excellence in healthcare mission. He embraced and promoted a cherished culture of forward-thinking, collaboration, innovation, diversity and inclusion, and performance excellence during this journey.

“I wanted to bring this experience to the higher education field, especially teaching. In healthcare and teaching, we address the customer’s needs (patient or student/learner),” he notes.

His teaching philosophy is based on the following pillars he developed as a healthcare executive:

– Act as a student-centered educator by preparing students academically and professionally to think clearly, act with integrity, and serve passionately.

– Encourage a culture of academic excellence defined by high academic standards, excellent teaching, and supporting student scholarship, success, and progress.

– Offer students a dynamic and innovative practitioner-based learning experience that engages them in theory, practice, and reflection.

– Promote a collaborative educational environment that strengthens dynamic learning and contributes to life-long academic and professional growth.

– Apply strategic vision for developing and implementing innovative and cutting-edge curricula.

– Engage in a learner-centered learning experience and share resources contributing to academic success, personal development, and improved career potential.

– Advocate for student success, progress, and intellectual and professional diversity.

There are several advancements in digital technologies in the healthcare sector that has Professor Kadrie excited. Considering the transition to value-based healthcare, the rise of health consumerism, and the pandemic COVID-19, he says digital technologies are and will be leveraged in the healthcare sector. These technologies include big data health analytics, machine learning, telehealth/medicine, artificial intelligence (AI), and data visualization, etc.

“The advancement in digital health technologies and applications will be a major force in improving healthcare outcomes and business performance; addressing patients’ expectations for care delivery and access will require a shift in the healthcare industry, promoting the virtual care in the clinical space, focusing on population health needs and issues,” he explains. “The future of healthcare will be in advancements in digital health technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual care. Healthcare professionals and other members involved in the healthcare industry must be given the opportunities and resources to succeed in a technology-based culture. Without cutting edge education and training on using and understanding this technology, we are setting ourselves up for failure.”

There are many challenges facing the health sector today when it pertains to digital health technology, and they are evolving, he adds.

Here are some:

  • Ethical, data privacy, and security: The increasing digitization of healthcare and the growth of mobile and IoT devices as data collection tools raises many ethical issues related to patient data privacy and confidentiality. The nature of health data is also changing; we are now collecting more private user-generated data, particularly data harvested from social media and through wearable technologies, than ever before. The growth of digital apps and technologies developed for a consumer market blurs the lines between medical and non-medical devices and raises ethical challenges regarding regularizing such technologies. This issue is exacerbated by the speed of advancements, the increasing globalization of healthcare solutions, and the time it takes for healthcare organizations to understand the implications of such advancements.
  • Integration and costs: Implementing digital technologies in healthcare requires significant resources and long-term commitment. Integrating and connecting different digital technologies (solutions and applications) can often be extremely daunting and costly.
  • Role of Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence can utilize data generated in digital health systems to help with aspects of medicine, such as improved diagnosis, selecting treatments, and predicting clinical outcomes. The presence of AI solutions in digital health intensifies challenges surrounding safety, data diversity and representations, explainability, and fairness.
  • User Experiences: Supporting and maintaining appropriate training and education involves teaching staff how to utilize digital health technologies and the most efficient ways to incorporate them within their responsibilities.

When asked his thoughts on how universities can better equip their students with the necessary skills for a successful career in digital health, Professor Kadrie acknowledges that healthcare systems are complex and multifaceted.

“The global pandemic expedited the integration of many digital health technologies to better everyday life, but it also left many healthcare organizations and systems in chaos and painfully aware of their digital shortcomings,” he says. “As a result, the healthcare sector is ripe for digital disruption, and there has been a huge increase in the application scope of digital solutions in clinical decision support, virtual care, telehealth, healthcare IT systems connectivity, and more.”

To ensure the healthcare industry is ready for this digital transformation, he explains that universities and health and academic medical programs must align content with anticipated needs in several ways:

  • Provide students with a global perspective on the opportunities and considerations around digital transformation in healthcare.
  • Identify how digital and global forces are converging to shape the healthcare ecosystem.
  • Recognize the lessons learned from real-world digital health transformation experiences and pilots, and create your action plan through the capstone project.
  • Identify the elements of effective change management and the critical success factors for implementing digital transformation within your organization.
  • Prepare students to apply best practices and insights to day-to-day operations and longer-term strategic priorities.

“Academic institutions should focus and aim to prepare students to lead digital transformation efforts within their organizations,” he says. “The focus is global, and the application is immediate, meaningful, and practical.”

One of the few certainties in digital health is that technologies will constantly change, evolve, and improve. Managing medicine and healthcare knowledge is becoming incredibly complex as new scientific discoveries add to healthcare knowledge.

“In 2020 the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic proved that virtual care, digital health, and health informatics infrastructure help healthcare providers and decision-makers address serious health and medical matters,” Professor Kadrie says. “As healthcare becomes more complex and ubiquitous, digital health professionals will become vital healthcare team members.”

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