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As coordinator of instructional curricular technology at New YorkMedicalCollege, Martin J. Glassman ’79 is involved in a project using electronic medical records (EMR) to decrease life-threatening medical errors and hold down costs.

The college loans a pocket PC to 25 third-year students at the start of each family medicine clerkship rotation. Students use it to record clinical patient encounters through software written in-house by an information technology programmer. Eventually, the project will be expanded to all clinical clerkships in the third and fourth years.

“The PDA therefore eliminates the conventional paper forms that students have typically used in their clinical rotations,” says Glassman, also assistant professor in the department of community and preventive medicine. “The students then synchronize their PDA through the Internet to a central database at New YorkMedicalCollege. The clerkship director and dean can then generate reports that will enable comparisons between students within sites, between students at each site, between clinical sites, between clerkship preceptors, etc.”

Along with a colleague, Glassman’s role is to support student PDA use, which includes instruction on using the PDA and software, phone and e-mail support, handling hardware problems, and relaying feedback. Federal and state government agencies have been pressing for implementation of electronic medical records, he notes. Teaching students to use them in medical school will prepare them for residencies in new high-tech settings.

“The Internet and e-mail, wireless access, and PDAs have made it easier for physicians to consult across great distances — time and distance are no longer obstacles! Patients in underserved areas throughout the world can potentially benefit from expert advice and second opinions from specialists without actually having to see the doctor,” says Glassman. “In addition, doctors can or will be easily able to track patients, order tests, review test results, review nurse’s notes, and write orders (legibly) by computer or PDA from anywhere. This is a tremendous benefit to patient care.”

In March, he discussed the PDA pilot program and the consortium that New YorkMedicalCollege, Tufts, and other medical schools are developing during a campus visit. He also gave an Internet demonstration of the medical school curriculum database web site showing the courses, schedule, course materials, and course content typical of medical school.

An A.B. engineering graduate, Glassman earned a D.M.D. from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Although dental school seems like a departure from his major, that’s not the case, he says.

“Both professions are involved with building bridges,” he explains. “And that is not a joke — dentistry requires a thorough knowledge of the nature of materials as well as other technical insight and the ability to work meticulously. Although I am now a faculty member at a medical school, this is also not a significant departure from my major. My job is the coordination of academic computing at New YorkMedicalCollege. Certainly my engineering training, which included computers and some computer programming, has been beneficial.”

Glassman says the most important skills he took from Lafayette were critical thinking and technical writing, which were introduced in his Introduction to Engineering course and developed throughout his engineering studies.

“I credit the English department’s high standards for my writing abilities,” he says. “As a healthcare professional who was originally trained as a practicing clinician, I had never expected that excellent writing and communication skills would become so important in my current job and career.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles