Information Science and Systems launches new health care concentration to meet industry demand

This new program is going to teach health care terminology and operations to give our IT and IS students the background they need to be able to go into the health care industry and be valuable."

Jeff Pittges, chair of the Department of Information Technology

Radford University’s Department of Information Technology (IT) is partnering with the School of Nursing (SON) to offer a dynamic new health care concentration.

This fall, the university will introduce the health care concentration of the Information Science and Systems (IS) degree, a program created in response to a growing industry demand for professionals with a fairly scarce combination of technical skills and domain knowledge in health care.

“This is a unique and highly-valuable skillset - one that is challenging to find among today’s professionals,” explained Jeff Pittges, chair of Radford University’s Department of Information Technology. “This new program is going to teach health care terminology and operations to give our IT and IS students the background they need to be able to go into the health care industry and be valuable.”

The interdisciplinary collaboration between IT and SON is a shining example of how Radford University is constantly transforming its curricula to meet the emerging need for multi-discipline careers.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double, from 46 million today to more than 98 million by 2060. In response, the employment of health care occupations is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024. Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 12 percent during the same time range.

“There is a tremendous health care workforce need, nationally and right here in the Commonwealth, for IS professionals with business-minded backgrounds in finance, management and marketing, as well as basic health care knowledge,” Pittges said. “This program is specifically designed to meet that need.”

Students who follow Radford University’s health care concentration track will be exposed to health care topics and nomenclature; learn how to extract and manipulate large data sets; utilize industry standard software in health care; and learn workflows within the specific health care context. They will learn how to communicate effectively with nurses, doctors and administrators to identify problems and approach them from a technical, business and domain perspective.

Students will complete 15 credit hours in biology, nursing and new health care and data science classes, in addition to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited core courses required for all Radford University IS students. Students will also be prepared to take an industry standard certification. To be prepared for this certification - and the real-world tasks that await them - students will learn how medical codes work, as well as how hospitals operate and interact with patients, clinicians, practitioners, insurers and government. A student completing this program will be prepared for a career in any of these sectors.

In addition to SON faculty, the program will be spearheaded by IT Assistant Professor Caleb Bradberry. Bradberry, who earned a Ph.D. in Information Systems from UNC Greensboro, carries a wealth of knowledge in health informatics, thus “bridging the gap” between SON and IT, Pittges said.

Radford University collaborates closely with Carilion Clinic, a Roanoke, Virginia-based health care organization. Through several partnerships, such as SON and IT internships and other experiential learning opportunities, Pittges has communicated with Carilion Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Keith Perry. Perry shared with Pittges that, oftentimes, Carilion must conduct a nationwide search to find an IS professional with both technical and domain skills. Once hired, the candidate must undergo years of training. Radford University’s new health care concentration will cut down training time and produce IS professionals willing and able to work in the New River and Roanoke valleys, and beyond.

"Health care is in the dinosaur ages of technology…It's transforming from the Stone Age to 2020 overnight," Perry told Pittges. "The need suddenly for those technology skills and the health care background is rapid."

About Radford University’s Information Science and Systems

The Information Science and Systems major at Radford University provides a strong foundation in computer programming and business information technology.

Students seeking the IS degree must complete the core college requirements and can choose from either an Information Systems, Web Development, Cybersecurity or Health Care concentration.

Aug 3, 2017
Mary Hardbarger
(540) 831-5150