Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Community | Process Collection | Membership | Transition to AAMC

About MedBiquitous

What is MedBiquitous?

MedBiquitous is three offerings in one unique package:

  • A community of health professions educators and technology innovators.
  • A process to develop, approve, and disseminate health professions education data standards.
  • A collection of open, health professions education data standards and technology guidelines.

Who are the staff that support MedBiquitous?

The MedBiquitous program team is led by Johmarx Patton, AAMC’s Director of Educational Technology and Standards, with the support of Jeff Kaminski, Medical Education Operations Specialist.

Why do the health professions need technology standards?

The health professions are undergoing many changes during the digital transformations of higher education, continuing education and healthcare. The lines between quality improvement efforts and education interventions have blurred. Competencies are a driving force in education and training. In addition, changes to how clinicians maintain their certification increasingly rely on data intensive communications between learners/professionals, credentialing organizations, and educators.

Enabling the digital transformation across the many educators, certifying bodies, and practice environments affected will be impossible without technology standards to bridge the gaps between these groups. Standards are a key element of the infrastructure that is essential to track clinical education and training, measure its efficacy, integrate education and improvement resources with systems at the point of care, deploy online courses in different environments, and link education and performance data to core competencies and curricula.

What are some examples of the standards in practice?

Let’s use practicing DO, Samantha Doe, as an example. MedBiquitous standards enable Dr. Doe's specialty board to communicate with her specialty society and track completion of her maintenance of certification requirements. MedBiquitous standards also enable her hospital to deploy virtual patients and online compliance training created by another institution, and communicate the effectiveness of that training to partner organizations. Standards allow Dr. Doe's medical school to collect data and conduct analysis of their alumni achievements, regardless of where they practice.

MedBiquitous standards also help schools track their curriculum, resources, and learner data against competency frameworks. Standards make it possible for the learner to use this data after the program is complete – allowing the learner to get a complete picture of their progression in competence across their career. Programs can know what tasks a learner has been entrusted to do without direct supervision, facilitating career transitions and allowing learners to start training at the appropriate level.

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Community

Who are MedBiquitous participants?

The MedBiquitous Community is comprised of individuals across the globe and health professions passionate about the need for open education data standards. Participants from industry, academia, and government organizations alike are welcome. MedBiquitous being both international and cutting across the health professions and the learning continuum are critical characteristics to the community and standards developed.

How can I get involved?

There are several ways to participate in the MedBiquitous community either as an individual or as an institution:

How can I stay connected?

MedBiquitous offers several ways to stay up to date on new standards and community activities:

  • Sign-up for our newsletter, medbiq@aamc.org.
  • Register for the MedBiquitous Webinar series.
  • Read the MedBiquitous blog for updates and news.
  • Follow our Director @JohmarxMD on Twitter!

Where can I learn more about the annual MedBiquitous conference?

MedBiquitous offers an annual, in-person meeting providing an opportunity to connect with colleagues in the health professions education standards community.

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Process

What is the MedBiquitous Process?

Leveraging the cumulative expertise of the MedBiquitous community, members engage in an open and consensus-driven process to develop technology standards for healthcare education, competence assessment, and quality improvement. The process is a rigorous exercise in deliberating standards and guidelines with the goal of remaining ahead of the curve as technology evolves. Through each iteration, stakeholder input is integral to the decision-making process.

What is the scope of development for MedBiquitous?

MedBiquitous focuses on developing technology standards for healthcare education, competence assessment, and quality improvement. MedBiquitous seeks to work with other standards developers whose work is complementary.

If I participate in the MedBiquitous Process or utilize the standards in the MedBiquitous Collection, do I have to share my data?

Contributing to the process and use of the standards does not require the sharing of your data. Putting your content or data in a standard format does not expose it or imply the intention to share content. However, if a need exists to move data between systems, MedBiquitous standards provide a consistent format for both the data and the interface for the transaction.

MedBiquitous/AAMC is not currently accredited by ANSI. Will you still adhere to the ANSI Essential Requirements?

MedBiquitous is committed to the standards process adhering to the ANSI Essential Requirements. An element of our roadmap forward includes revisiting ANSI accreditation and how to thoughtfully approach that endeavor.

What is the policy on submitting ideas and feedback on MedBiquitous standards?

MedBiquitous welcomes suggestions regarding possible improvements to the MedBiquitous standards. Unless otherwise agreed, any inventions, product improvements, modifications, or developments made or submitted to the AAMC/MedBiquitous (Improvements) will be the exclusive property of the AAMC. The submitter hereby assigns to the AAMC any and all right, title, and interest the submitter has or may acquire in, to, or under such Improvements. AAMC shall have no obligation to make any Improvements. Further, material submissions made to AAMC staff members, social media sites, webpages, and affiliate program sites are governed by the AAMC Submission Agreement.

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Collection

What is a data standard?

Data standards are the rules by which data are described and recorded. In order to share, exchange, and understand data, we must standardize the format as well as the meaning.

  • Standards make it easier to create, share, and integrate data by making sure that there is a clear understanding of how the data are represented and that the data you receive are in a form that you expected.
  • Standards provide data integrity, accuracy and consistency, clarify ambiguous meanings, minimize redundant data, and document business rules.
  • In other words, the data become usable to more than just the project or person that created the data, because you know the data will be in an expected format and you know what is represented by the data.

Source: “Data Management.” Data Standards, https://www.usgs.gov/products/data-and-tools/data-management/data-standards.

What do you mean when you talk about infrastructure, interoperability and technology standards?

From the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), technology standards are “documents that provide requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.”

When we talk about technology standards and infrastructure in health professions education, or higher education more broadly, we typically discuss documents that have several of the elements mentioned above. Most standards include a data dictionary, which includes definitions of data elements; a logical model, that defines entities, their properties and relationships; serialization, digital formats for storage or exchange of entities; and protocols, transport layer and message formats for exchanging entities.

All the concepts described above play a part in enabling communication between one or more technologies. This interoperability is a critical factor for the development of education research networks, lifelong learning records, and advanced continuous quality improvement efforts.

What is XML?

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, a Web standard that makes it easier to exchange structured data over the Internet. For example, when you see John Doe, M.D., Pediatrics, you probably know that pediatrics is a medical specialty and that John Doe is a doctor's name. Computers can't interpret that information without some help. XML tags put information in context for computers. An XML member listing for Dr. Doe might look like this:

What is JSON?

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. JSON is a “lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate.” (www.json.org) Similar in purpose to XML, JSON provides a standard format for the transmission of data. A similar listing for Dr. Doe in JSON might look like this:

What are Web Services?

Just as XML serves as a common structure for data, Web services serves as a lingua franca for applications. Web services allows disparate applications and machines to connect with one another through the Internet. These connected applications and machines are able to share information and work together as if they were parts of a single system. As a result, organizations can streamline interactions with partner organizations and save money. And, users can find the content and services they seek in one place instead of jumping from website to website. For example, Amazon.com offers Web services that allow other organizations to integrate book searching and listing functionality directly into their existing websites. Instead of going to the Amazon.com website, users can stay on their favorite site to search for and purchase books through Amazon.

What are APIs?

APIs are Application Programming Interfaces. APIs let applications work together and exchange data. APIs allow applications to get just the right amount of data that they need for the task the user is trying to accomplish, which makes them particularly useful for mobile computing. For example, an application may use an API to retrieve data on the medical schools accredited in a particular country. If the person using the application requests more detail on a specific school, the application can then retrieve the school's data and display that to the user. That way the user can access the most accurate and up-to-date information quickly and easily. MedBiquitous uses JSON and XML for its API standards.

What are the benefits of creating standards?

XML, JSON, and Web services standards make it easier to find information and conduct online transactions. In the airline industry, for example, there are standards for travel information that allow computer systems to exchange data with one another. These standards, in turn, enabled the development of software tools that allow Internet users to search several airlines for flights meeting their travel criteria.

In addition, standards can save programming and administrative time and effort, thereby saving money. Instead of building new applications from scratch, organizations can weave together standards-based components to create an integrated solution efficiently. Providing automated ways for systems to work together dramatically reduces the time and costs associated with importing new information into existing systems. Technology standards also provide the opportunity for organizations to work together in new and innovative ways.

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Membership

What do I need to do to become a participant of the MedBiquitous Community and Process?

Currently, we are accepting individual participants that have an interest in the development of technologies and standards that support health professions education. To join our list, please email: medbiq@aamc.org.

How do I get my organization involved with MedBiquitous?

We are currently revising our policies and procedures for organizations to become participants in the MedBiquitous Consortium. To stay apprised of the changes, please sign-up for our newsletter by sending a message to: medbiq@aamc.org.

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MedBiquitous’ Transition to the AAMC

In January 2019, the MedBiquitous program transitioned from the leadership of Peter Greene and Valerie Smothers at Johns Hopkins University to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This transition shifted MedBiquitous from an LLC within a single institution to a program within the medical education mission area of the AAMC.

Will My Membership Be Affected?

As a result of the transition, MedBiquitous Consortium members terminated their membership affiliation with the Johns Hopkins Medicine LLC. With input from key stakeholders, Johmarx Patton, AAMC’s Director of Educational Technology and Standards, is currently evaluating a new participation model. During this evaluation period, current members may participate in any scheduled working group meetings and continue collaboration through the MedBiquitous Confluence site.

Will MedBiquitous Membership Continue to Be Interprofessional?

Healthcare is a team effort, and it is important to have many health professions represented in the development of MedBiquitous standards. The AAMC will continue to welcome members from all health professions.

Will MedBiquitous Membership Be International?

The MedBiquitous community is comprised of stakeholders from around the globe who share integral input and perspective. The AAMC will continue to welcome international participation in MedBiquitous’ work.

Who is the New Director of MedBiquitous?

Johmarx Patton is AAMC’s Director of Educational Technology and Standards and convener of the MedBiquitous community. A scholar and strategist at the intersection of medical education, healthcare, and information technology, Dr. Patton earned his medical and master of health informatics degrees from the University of Michigan. He then went on to hold several roles with the university; most recently, he held the role of Director of Education Informatics and Technologies.

When and Where is the Next MedBiquitous Conference?

MedBiquitous 2020 is scheduled for June 9, 2020, in New York, New York. This coming year, the annual conference will be a one-day symposium for health professional educators and technology innovators and held in conjunction with the Information Technology in Academic Medicine conference, sponsored by the AAMC Group on Information Resources (GIR).

How Will Stakeholder Input Be Gathered?

Since joining the AAMC in June 2019, Johmarx Patton’s primary focus has been invigorating engagement with MedBiquitous community members. As a MedBiquitous participant for many years, Johmarx values its shared purpose and commitment, and continues the strong tradition of community involvement in the development, implementation, and scholarship of health professions education technology interoperability.

In September 2019, the MedBiquitous program team convened with strategic international stakeholders of the MedBiquitous community for a Visioning Meeting at the AAMC Headquarters in Washington, DC. The day’s event effectively captured ideas, concerns, and the collective insight of community members’ experience in the realm of health professions education. Currently underway is the process of analyzing the valuable feedback gathered in order to identify common themes for the vision and roadmap ahead.

Additionally, over the last several months, Johmarx has been meeting with a range of community stakeholders, including workgroup leads, to better understand where workgroup efforts stand related to the collection of standards.

Comments and questions from the MedBiquitous community may also be shared by emailing: medbiq@aamc.org.

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