On this episode of the Healthy Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Dr. Mark Merolli, Ann Green and Professor Catherine Dean. In this episode we discuss our upcoming focused symposium at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress in Geneva Switzerland on Sunday May 12th at 4:00 PM. The title of our symposium is Education: Technology and Informatics.
In this episode, we discuss:
– The why behind our focused symposium.
– Current global entry standards for physiotherapy in relation to digital health technology and informatics.
– How technology affects the world of physiotherapy and are we preparing new graduates to meet those demands
– A sneak peek into the specifics of our talk.
– What we hope the symposium and discussions in Geneva will lead to.
_ And much more!
For more information on Mark Meroli:
Dr. Merolli is Physiotherapist (musculoskeletal) and Certified Health Informatician.
For many years now, he has been a leading voice on all matters technology in
physiotherapy. He has global reputation for his expertise in digital health and informatics,
which has led to his involvement and consultation on this area across several WCPT and
member organization events and initiatives. He has presented on digital health at several
recent APA, and WCPT conferences, run workshops, written articles for member magazines,
and been interviewed on podcasts to discuss these areas. His research interests include how
technology is engaging patients to be more active participants in their own health
management and how we can ensure the digital preparedness of future health
For more information on Ann Green:
Ann Green MSc, FCSP, FHEA is Head of Life Sciences at Coventry University. Ann is a Fellow of the
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, awarded for her contribution to education, research and policy.
Throughout her career Ann has worked in higher education and has developed physiotherapy
programmes in the UK and internationally. She has been active within professional accreditation,
physiotherapy educational policy and worked for the UK health regulator, the HCPC, in programme
approval and international registration. Ann’s research outputs span 20 years with her earliest
publication about admission and progression trends in undergraduate programmes and her recent
publications relating to postgraduate physiotherapy education and the development of the
individual, the profession and careers. She has been invited to speak internationally on advancing
physiotherapy practice. Her current research with an international team, is on social media and its
role in global physiotherapy professional networks. Ann is one of the co-founders of the Big Physio
Survey, an open access resource which enables physiotherapists from across the world, to share
case studies online, which forms a global repository to showcase our rich and diverse profession.
For more information on Catherine Dean:
Professor Catherine Dean is a physiotherapist with a full-time academic appointment with
teaching research and administrative responsibilities. In 2011 Professor Dean moved to
Macquarie University in a key appointment for the University’s expansion in health and
medicine. She was appointed the inaugural Head of the Department of Health Professions
and has established NSW’s first professional entry Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT)
degree. The Macquarie DPT includes advanced physiotherapy skills, business management,
leadership, policy and advocacy units as well as completion of a research project. In 2014,
she received the Executive Dean’s Service Award for engaging students and the community
in establishing the Discipline of Physiotherapy and in 2015 led the DPT teaching team which
was awarded the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences excellence in teaching award. In
2017, she was appointed Deputy Dean of The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Prior to her Macquarie University appointment, Professor Dean worked as an academic with
teaching, administrative and research responsibilities at the University of Sydney for 20
years. Her research interests are developing and testing of rehabilitation strategies to
increase activity and participation after stroke, translating evidence into practice and clinical
education. She has published in leading journals such as Stroke, Archives of Physical
Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pain. She has been awarded over $5.8 million in grants for
research and education. Professor Catherine Dean’s research has changed physiotherapy
practice in stroke rehabilitation. Professor Dean’s research findings have been integrated
into national and international clinical practice guidelines, such as the NHMRC-
approved Clinical Guidelines on the Management of Stroke and featured on the Canadian
Stroke Network StrokeEngine site.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:01 Hello everyone and welcome to the podcast. I want to welcome Mark back onto the podcast and Anne and Catherine, welcome for the first time. I’m so happy to have you all on this episode. And for all the listeners, what we’re going to be talking about is our focused symposium that is going to be taking place at WCPT in Geneva May 10th through the 13th for the WCPT meeting. And our symposium is education, technology and informatics, and it is Sunday, May 12th at 4:00. So if you are going to be in Geneva, you’re going to want to come to this focused symposium. Now, this all sort of started with Mark, so I’m going to throw it to you first as to so you could tell the listeners why you wanted to even put this focused symposium together.
Mark Merolli: 00:58 Thanks for doing this again. And I’m actually really excited that actually got you on some part of this wider team, uh, to, to be part of this focusing posing in Geneva. And it’s great to be on your podcast again. Uh, but you’re right, when we last spoke on the podcast, we talked I think more broadly about just the impact that technology, the wider discipline of informatics is having on the physio profession, future trends, disrupters, et cetera. And I think obviously for no uncertain terms that work has continued and that impact continues to grow. But one of the things that, you know, obviously, are very near physio educator for some time now. And I think working in that space of, um, health informatics, um, digital health, uh, so, you know, the intersection of technology and healthcare, I think one of the things that’s been really readily apparent to me for some time now is need.
Mark Merolli: 02:02 Um, and to ask ourselves the question as to where this all fits into the way we educate our future physical therapists, physiotherapists. So I thought when calls for abstracts came along and sessions for WCPT, that it would be very topical, um, for WCPT and the wider profession to embrace the idea of, you know, let, let’s have a look at, at current ways we educate university students, um, in this space? Have a look at perhaps where technology features in what we teach, where it should feature, where it can feature. Um, and I was just really glad to see the WCPT thought this was equally worthy. Um, I’ll debate, um, and put it up as a focus symposium for us. Uh, and the speakers on, on the symposium, the panel yourself, uh, your entrepreneurial self. Um, and, and Ann Green will have known for a very long time as a physio educator in the UK.
Mark Merolli: 03:04 Um, and Catherine, uh, over here in Australia as well, who’s a very innovative forward thinking educator who’s one of the few people I know who’s pushed to this stuff for many, many years before this was really a debate. Uh, I thought you were all pretty much perfect, um, example of people that could help push this topic and discuss it. So that was the motivation from my end. Um, I think it’s one thing for you and I to talk about technology in the profession but a very different but complimentary themes to talk about how this all fits in education. Um, cause I think in no uncertain terms, we either don’t do it, um, we don’t know how to do it or we do it quite ad hoc for the most part. Um, so it would be really, really nice to discuss at WCPT, we’re hoping to get along as many people as possible as to how we might actually go forward with this and see informatics, technology, digital healthcare starts to become a more sort of interwoven thread in the way we’re trying to future proof this profession. So I’m really looking forward to doing this with all of you. So thanks for, thanks for spreading the word for us I guess.
Karen Litzy: 04:18 Yeah, and I mean I’m really looking, I’ve learned so much just from listening to the three of you, so I can guarantee if you’re in Geneva you are going to learn a lot with this focused symposium. So, Ann let me throw it to you now and can you give us a little snippet as to what your part of this symposium is going to focus on?
Ann Green: So as Mark said, it had been an educator for a long time. I’ve involved with a professional body in setting curriculum guidelines. I’ve involved with statutory bodies. Um, and I suppose that’s the obvious point when, when you saw when you forming curriculum. So it was really interesting to have a look what the UK is doing and then have conversations with, with Catherine, Mark about Australia and yourself about at the U.S. and what we all found was that there are, are a few guidelines.
Ann Green: 05:19 And so I’m really interesting to discuss with everybody in the audience. Is that a good thing? Is that a liberating or should there be more guidelines? Um, I’ve previously been involved with Mark and do this research around social media and it’s interesting that a number of guidelines appeared from all corners once physios became very active on social media. So it would be interesting to know, um, what we can learn from that. Uh, and whether it’s professions, accrediting bodies, individuals we should be guiding or letting people freely develop and uh, and see what happens.
Karen Litzy: And do you feel like looking at those guidelines for social media, which like you said, I think we can all agree that probably most, uh, physical therapy governing bodies of countries around the world have some sort of guidance on social media that came way after people were using. So yes.
Karen Litzy: 06:21 So it’s one of those kind of, are we asking for permission or asking for forgiveness and, and I think that’s where guidelines around informatics can be kind of interesting because you want to know, are we asking for permission or are we doing things like wild west? It, that’s a definitely a US thing. Um, uh, is it going to be like the wild west out there as more informatics and more technology get involved in the profession where then people have to ask for forgiveness for certain breaches of let’s say privacy or things like that?
Ann Green: Yeah, I suppose, I think what we did learn from social media and the guidelines, the teeth essentially came round to good professional behavior. Um, uh, maybe mmm. Maybe in terms of going forward with how people are using technology, um, in health cat, it will perhaps be framed around, you know, the sort of common standards that we have for professional behavior, respecting patients, privacy, um, and um, and using evidence.
Karen Litzy: Yeah, absolutely. And now, Cath, can you talk a little bit more about what you’re going to be sharing a in Geneva with this symposium?
Catherine Dean: 07:37 Oh yeah. Thanks Karen. I’m, hi, I’m Catherine. I’m, I’m an educator. For a long time in 2011, I changed university and I had the opportunity to develop a physio therapy program from scratch from a green field, which is a, I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but it’s very exciting. Um, when I came to the knee university, I really wanted to ensure that our graduates, it was future proofed and future focus. So I knew I had to embrace technology and, and um, health informatics. I wasn’t quite sure how to do it. Um, I was very fortunate to meet Mark at a conference who helped me out. And I really want to share at the conference a little bit about what I did, what worked and what didn’t. Uh, um, the lessons I’ve learned it you learn a lot from the errors as you make and hopefully I can stop some other people making some of my errors. Um, but I’m really interested in what other people have done because there’s still lots to solve. And how do we actually adequately prepared, um, the future professionals for practicing a ever increasing digital world. So be there Sunday, May 12th at 4:00 PM Geneva.
Karen Litzy: 08:45 And what, what do you feel like from your perspective and with the students that you’ve worked with in the past and are currently working with, what do you feel the biggest, I guess, barrier to, having these students be, whether it be, cause they seem to be proficient in technology, right? What is it that is maybe the biggest barrier about using this within the practice of physical therapy?
Catherine Dean: 09:14 I think it probably intersects a little bit with what Anne said. I think, well, they often proficient in using their technology. They perhaps don’t understand the ramifications around privacy issues. Uh, and then I think some of the other issues is it’s around professional behavior. Again, uh, your, your, your digital profile is, it is, it reflects the profession as well. So you need to think about, um, adequate oh, standards and provisional by, but I also think while they can be really good at technology and make flashy things, sometimes the content still misses the critical analytical skills that are needed. So, um, I, in some ways it’s just another format for communicating and it has its own challenges about that. What you do communicate has to be accurate and evidence based.
Karen Litzy: 10:08 Yeah, for sure. And Mark Your, you know, your goal in putting this panel together is to really spark conversation and to get people interested in informatics. But one thing we didn’t talk about in this podcast yet is, and it’s a question I get every time I say, oh, I’m doing this focus symposium on informatics. It’s what’s informatics?
Mark Merolli: 10:32 We haven’t had to refer people back to the other podcast episode. I don’t remember look in no uncertain terms. When we talk about informatics, we’re, we’re really talking about information science, um, and is an essentially where technology plays a role in how we improve use of inflammation in healthcare. So, you know, we were covering everything from the way we collect health information, store it, uh, analyze it and then essentially put it into practice. It’s about making healthcare safer, more efficient, more evidence based, you know, improving essentially the quality of health information using technology. If I can put it in a nutshell. Ready for if Karen, if I could probably just echo Cath sentiments. Really it’s um, I agree 110% with what she said, but part of the other reason for having this topic and the symposium, I think yes, we are all passionate advocates but this is also an exercise in supporting, uh, our colleagues, uh, and the wider physio profession as well.
Mark Merolli: 11:33 Um, and much like implementing technology into practice, whether that be a small practice or a hospital. Um, you know, technology requires a big change management exercise. And one of the, you know, we were just talking about the barriers here. One of the barriers is also the confidence and the skillset and the that are actual educators and workforce clinical supervisors have to support this too. Um, so one of the things I’m very passionate about and part of the reason for getting the word out there here is that, you know, we actually need to consider the existing work force, the audience of this symposium, our colleagues, the other educators who are expected to teach these students these themes but may not also be all at 100% confident themselves. So I think that’s probably one of the other barriers and considerations that I’d like to throw into the debate as well. Um, how we can support the existing workforce.
Karen Litzy: 12:30 And I think that’s important. And I think part of what I guess I should say what I’m going to talk about during this symposium as well. Um, but, uh, I think what I’m going to be speaking of, I’m coming at this from a practice owner, from a practicing clinician. So I’m served, people are wondering what I’m doing on this panel of academics because I am not an academic. I’m not in, I’m not teaching in a university. Um, but I am coming at it from the point of view of the practice owner, the practicing physical, the practicing physical therapist and the point of view as someone who may be hiring these students as they come out of school and, and supervising the students. And so I think from a practice standpoint, I mean I’m really looking for, uh, graduates who at least bare minimum have an idea of what informatics are.
Karen Litzy: 13:30 Um, kind of what we use. Mark you just said, but I’m also looking at how can we use technology to make my practice run a little bit more smoothly. And that can be an electronic medical proficiency and electronic medical records, understanding how electronic medical records work and why they’re there. Um, and again, the safety and privacy around that. And also using technology with my patients, whether that be an APP or a wearable, how it’s like, yeah, anybody can use an app or a wearable, but to marks, uh, I think other passion, you know, big data sets and things like that. Yeah, anybody can do that. But then what do you do with the data you’re collecting? It’s got to go somewhere. You have to understand how to use that in order to help improve your patients’ journey with you and also your practice as a whole.
Karen Litzy: 14:24 So that’s kind of where I’m coming from. A little bit more of the, how can this all be applied in the real world with real patients and real businesses, whether that business be a large hospital, which is going to be way different than what I do. Um, and in some respects, large hospital systems maybe have better data collection. I don’t know. I’m just throwing that out there cause they have more resources at their fingertips. So I would, I’m looking forward to are the people who are sitting in the audience to kind of get, Hey, this is what I use for my practice. So kind of sharing best practices amongst people from all over the world I think can really go a long way in supporting each other. Like you said, mark, kind of bringing it back full circle. Yup.
Mark Merolli: 15:07 They symposia are very collaborative and that’s the whole point of these. Um, you know, we’re, we’re hoping to not talk too much, uh, outside of audience discussion. Uh, I think we’re at a very unique opportunities to point with this topic. Uh, and I think that, you know, as a collective and WCPT has always been a great forum for that to really shape this debate. Um, and actually create some state of, of, you know, guidance going forward. I, and again, like Cath has said in, in our discussions a lot, um, guidance is one thing, but you know, creativities in hello. Um, we actually hope that some of the ideas come from the room and come from the session.
Karen Litzy: 15:48 And so let me ask you all the same question before we wrap things up here. And that is your pie in the sky view of this symposium. What would be the best outcome you can hope to achieve at the end of this two hour symposium? Right? Two hours. Yeah. Okay. So what would be your, your best outcome for this two hours symposium? So any one of you can kind of take it first?
Ann Green: Um, I’ll, I’ll go first. Okay, go ahead. Well, I’d like people to think that the time went really fast and they wish their discussion and debates could’ve gone on longer and that they will continue those debates at the conference and the each person we’ll go back
Ann Green: 16:39 and say, I am going to get involved. I am going to effect change in my own region, in my own area with the people that I’m interacting with.
Karen Litzy: Awesome. Mark Cath. Either one want to,
Catherine Dean: 16:53 for me, I would like to connect with people who had some bright ideas they have tried and had success with and I’m really happy to to just have a network of academics that are really trying to work on this so you can actually have a kind of a community of practice where you can share your ideas and share what’s gone worked well and what hasn’t. And and um, look, they’ll always be local contextual factors, but there’s probably lots to share and, and, and some good ideas if we can get together in a, in a virtual environment. Yep.
Mark Merolli: 17:30 Yeah, it looks similar to me. I think what I’d love to say is very much the way that the whole social media landscape ramped up, um, on the back of WCPT congress is, I, I’ve loved after this congress, you know, educators far and wide start to actually talk about this stuff, starts to try and think of ways, um, to bring this into professional development and university curricula and that um, technology, digital healthcare informatics stays, you know, high on the, you know, WCPT annual member organization agenda. Um, and we sort of see it as a regular feature at conferences and et Cetera. So from this day forth, the type of thing.
Karen Litzy: 18:10 Yeah. And I think that’s all great news. I would say I would hope to kind of meet other clinicians and practice owners who may be, can again collaborate and be the driver for a lot of the technology that we’re seeing in every day use that can then be brought back to maybe local universities and to say to them, hey, listen, this is what we’re seeing in practice. This is what needs to be taught to your students. And then see if we can have that collaboration between the academics and the clinicians, which I think is, is sorely lacking in our profession as a whole. That’s just my opinion. Um, but I definitely feel like having great collaborations between the academics and the full time clinicians can just drive the practice forward in, in a way that will make us more innovative and creative and, and quite frankly, a happier profession. Um, so that would be my sort of pie in the sky view is to really get a lot of cross pollination between all of us
Karen Litzy: 19:21 So. All right, one more time. I’m going to thank Mark and thank Ann thank Cath for coming onto the podcast today and for being great partners, uh, in what will definitely be a really fun and interactive symposium. Again, it’s edge, it’s called education, technology and informatics and it’s Sunday, May 12th at 4:00 PM, and that is at the WCPT conference in Geneva, Switzerland. So if you’re there, come by, um, and sit down, share your thoughts, make sure you’re coming. We want you to come armed with your thoughts on informatics, what you’re doing, what worked, what didn’t, so that we can have a really robust conversation within the room. So guys, thank you so much for coming on and I look forward to seeing all of you in, in real life, in Geneva.Yes, bye bye. Thanks everyone. Thanks so much for listening. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.
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