Unique global health informatics course to be offered at GSLIS

Ian Brooks
Ian Brooks, Research Scientist

GSLIS will offer a new special topics course, LIS490GH: Global Health Informatics, for the first time in Spring 2016. Developed and taught by Research Scientist Ian Brooks, the course will be the first on the Urbana campus to expose students to the changing field of health informatics in developing parts of the world.

The course will teach students about the realities of health informatics in Africa and other parts of the globe, where the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) is improving the quality and safety of patient care. Students will examine the current state of global health informatics concentrating on open-source software initiatives, such as OpenMRS and DHIS2, and the transition from paper-based systems to increasingly sophisticated electronic replacements. They also will spend time studying the mHealth movement—medical services delivered via mobile devices—and the application of mobile technologies to healthcare.

“Students will gain an understanding of the realities of health informatics in Africa: healthcare information is still mostly paper based but increasingly ICT driven, and there are great differences in the levels of technology used throughout the country,” said Brooks.

Brooks developed the course with funding from the Center for African Studies and the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois. Each center contributed $5,000 toward the course. Other units on campus offer courses in medical informatics and public health, but they primarily focus on problems of domestic importance and do not expose students to the challenges and rewards of working in Africa or other developing areas.

At Illinois, Brooks represents both GSLIS and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications as a liaison to the health sciences community. In this role, he maintains and develops research relationships between GSLIS and NCSA in the area of health science information and works with faculty on externally funded projects and new initiatives. He also serves as a faculty affiliate in the University of Illinois Center for Health, Aging, and Disability and the Center for African Studies, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing. Brooks serves on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s external advisory board for high performance computing, the Pan American Health Organization’s advisory committee on e-health, and the International Society for Disease Surveillance’s research committee.

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