Digital Health CRC Internships
Update provided by Dr Anna Janssen
The Digital Health CRC does not just support research projects, but also has a focus on building Digital Health workforce capability. The Centre does this by supporting activities that develop new knowledge and skills for tomorrow’s workforce. One exciting initiative that the centre is piloting this year are Industry Internships. The Digital Health CRC’s Education Manager, Dr. Melanie Haines, feels these internships provide students from a range of disciplines a unique opportunity to develop industry skills:
“We see these internships as an exciting opportunity for students enrolled in data science, engineering, IT, health analytics, epidemiology and health informatics or similar areas, who want to work on real-world datasets to solve industry-relevant problems, often via small-group collaborations. Because they can be done online, these opportunities can be opened up to students who might otherwise miss out on traditional work placements. Industry placements are an important part of many university qualifications as employers look for graduates with job-ready skills, but demand for placements often exceeds supply.”
The University of Sydney has been awarded one of the first Industry Internships through the Digital Health CRC. The Internship Project ‘Comparing cost and quality between Primary Care Providers’ is supported by HMS. Dr. Melanie Haines explained the how the Centre’s partnership with HMS in supporting industry internships:
“One of the core participants in Digital Health CRC is the US-based healthcare technology company HMS, which provides the coordination of benefits for Medicaid. This service provides HMS with a very large volume of paid claims data, and HMS is sharing de-identified Medicaid data with our researchers to help us find solutions to healthcare-related problems through dataset analysis. Later we hope to obtain other big health datasets, from Australian sources.
Interns will work with an experienced university researcher and data scientist to identify a research question and a methodology that will fit both the internship time limits, and deliver important insights based on significant health data.”
The University of Sydney internship project aims to analyse data from healthcare claims in the USA to characterise cost and quality patterns within Primary Care Providers’ practice. An analytics model will then be developed to benchmark individual and group practice data against state and national data sets. The project is supervised by Dr Audrey P. Wang, who is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Health, Discipline of Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health at The University of Sydney – Westmead Health Precinct. She is excited about the Internship project because it provides an opportunity to contribute research approaches to an industry project:
“We are bringing research ideas into a collaborative project with our industry partner – HMS, with the ultimate goal of improving healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. We have chosen to focus on understanding the scale of the issue of chronic pain. By doing this we hope to learn where we might need to target future research with primary care providers in the North American states we study.”
Findings from this Internship have a range of implications for industry, as the research will help better understand if routinely collected electronic data can be used to understand the cost and quality of healthcare. Well-developed benchmarks to evaluate cost effectiveness and care quality may also be useful for healthcare payers to help improve efficiencies in the health system. Dr Audrey P Wang said:
“I am passionate about the translation of digital health research into real-world impact. An industry intern gets to experience first-hand a meaningful project that gives them a deep-dive experience into the limitations and opportunities of informatics research in industry. That’s an excellent opportunity to be excited about.”
The recipient of the Digital Health CRC internship is Junlin Lin. Junlin is completing a Master of Philosophy degree through The University of Sydney. She has found the internship rewarding because: “It’s very difficult for research students to get access to extremely large datasets like this HMS one. This internship offered me an opportunity to use real-world data, which is challenging but also very exciting. On the one hand, the industry data requires the use of analytical models and development of various benchmarks for a better insight of primary care provider services in the U.S, and thus I’m able to gain some industry experience. On the other hand, the internship also enhanced my skills in data processing invaluably for my research degree, which is a long-term benefit.”
View the DHCRC website For more information on projects and industry internships.