Want to understand and improve the U.S. healthcare system? There’s a MOOC for that.

Today’s Detroit News features a story about a new MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) being launched tommorrow by University of Michigan professor Matthew Davis.  Dr. Davis identified the need the course while teaching medical students, noting a pervasive lack of clarity about health policy, government health care, and insurance.

Davis has unusually strong credentials to teach such a course. In addition to roles teaching in both the medical and public policy schools, Dr. Davis is also a practicing pediatrician, and was recently appointed Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive in June of 2013.

Although the course breaks important new ground in applying MOOCs to healthcare, it is not the first MOOC to pursue this critical area of education. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania previously offered a popular Coursera MOOC on Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act. Today, Coursera now lists 59 current open-enrollment courses on health-related topics; EdX lists an additional 9.

As a non-profit that spans the worlds of healthcare and higher education, NCHL is watching the unfolding MOOC story with great interest.  (If you are unfamiliar with MOOCs, there are two excellent TED Talks – Peter Norvig’s about Courseraand Daphne Koller’s about ‘big data‘ – that will give you an efficient introduction.)  As U.S. health systems continue to evolve toward population-based approaches, the need for efficient access to high-quality leadership development is growing as well. Several of the presenters at this November’s Human Capital Investment Conference in Chicago will be describing their approaches to overcoming geographic and cultural boundaries; MOOCs seem like a highly promising tool to efficiently expand their reach.

You can read more about Dr. Davis’s course, and join 10,000+ others who have signed up to take it for free, on the Coursera website.  Classes start Monday, October 7.

About Andrew Garman

Chief Executive Officer, NCHL; Professor, Health Systems Management Department, Rush University

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