Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Last updated: September 23, 2020

Community | Process Collection Participation

About MedBiquitous

What is MedBiquitous?

There are three key aspects to the MedBiquitous Program:

  • A community of health professions educators and technology innovators.
  • A process to develop, approve, and disseminate health professions education data standards.
  • A collection of open, health professions education data standards and technology guidelines.

Who are the staff that support MedBiquitous?

The MedBiquitous program team is led by Johmarx Patton, AAMC’s Director of Educational Technology and Standards, with the support of Jeff Kaminski, Medical Education Operations Specialist.

Why do the health professions need technology standards?

The health professions are undergoing many changes during the digital transformations of higher education, continuing education and healthcare. The lines between quality improvement efforts and education interventions have blurred. Competencies are a driving force in education and training. In addition, changes to how clinicians maintain their certification increasingly rely on data intensive communications between learners/professionals, credentialing organizations, and educators.

Enabling the digital transformation across the many educators, certifying bodies, and practice environments affected will be impossible without technology standards to bridge the gaps between these groups. Standards are a key element of the infrastructure that is essential to track clinical education and training, measure its efficacy, integrate education and improvement resources with systems at the point of care, deploy online courses in different environments, and link education and performance data to core competencies and curricula.

What are some examples of the standards in practice?

Let’s use practicing DO, Samantha Doe, as an example. MedBiquitous standards enable Dr. Doe's specialty board to communicate with her specialty society and track completion of her maintenance of certification requirements. MedBiquitous standards also enable her hospital to deploy virtual patients and online compliance training created by another institution, and communicate the effectiveness of that training to partner organizations. Standards allow Dr. Doe's medical school to collect data and conduct analysis of their alumni achievements, regardless of where they practice.

MedBiquitous standards also help schools track their curriculum, resources, and learner data against competency frameworks. Standards make it possible for the learner to use this data after the program is complete – allowing the learner to get a complete picture of their progression in competence across their career. Programs can know what tasks a learner has been entrusted to do without direct supervision, facilitating career transitions and allowing learners to start training at the appropriate level.

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Community

Who are MedBiquitous participants?

The MedBiquitous Community is comprised of individuals across the globe and health professions passionate about the need for open education data standards. Participants from industry, academia, and government organizations alike are welcome. MedBiquitous being both international and cutting across the health professions and the learning continuum are critical characteristics to the community and standards developed.

What ways can I become involved?

There are several ways to participate in the MedBiquitous community either as an individual or as an institution:

How can I stay connected?

MedBiquitous offers several ways to stay up to date on new standards and community activities:

  • Sign-up for our newsletter, medbiq@aamc.org.
  • Register for the MedBiquitous Community Connection webinar series.
  • Read the MedBiquitous blog for updates and news.
  • Follow our Director @JohmarxMD on Twitter!

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Process

What is the MedBiquitous Process?

Leveraging the cumulative expertise of the MedBiquitous community, members engage in an open and consensus-driven process to develop technology standards for healthcare education, competence assessment, and quality improvement. The process is a rigorous exercise in deliberating standards and guidelines with the goal of remaining ahead of the curve as technology evolves. Through each iteration, stakeholder input is integral to the decision-making process.

What is the scope of development for MedBiquitous?

MedBiquitous focuses on developing technology standards for healthcare education, competence assessment, and quality improvement. MedBiquitous seeks to work with other standards developers whose work is complementary.

If I participate in the MedBiquitous Process or utilize the standards in the MedBiquitous Collection, do I have to share my data?

Contributing to the process and use of the standards does not require the sharing of your data. Putting your content or data in a standard format does not expose it or imply the intention to share content. However, if a need exists to move data between systems, MedBiquitous standards provide a consistent format for both the data and the interface for the transaction.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredits standards development organizations like MedBiquitous. Is MedBiquitous ANSI accredited?

Our ANSI accreditation process began in August 2020. We anticipate that this process will be complete towards the end of the calendar year.

In the interim, MedBiquitous is committed to our standards development process adhering to the ANSI Essential Requirements. For more information, please visit our procedures page.

What is the policy on submitting ideas and feedback on MedBiquitous standards?

MedBiquitous welcomes suggestions regarding possible improvements to the MedBiquitous standards. Unless otherwise agreed, any inventions, product improvements, modifications, or developments made or submitted to the AAMC/MedBiquitous (Improvements) will be the exclusive property of the AAMC. The submitter hereby assigns to the AAMC any and all right, title, and interest the submitter has or may acquire in, to, or under such Improvements. AAMC shall have no obligation to make any Improvements. Further, material submissions made to AAMC staff members, social media sites, webpages, and affiliate program sites are governed by the AAMC Submission Agreement.

Participating Organizations agree to these terms as a component of the MedBiquitous Participation Agreement.

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Collection

What is a data standard?

Data standards are the rules by which data are described and recorded. In order to share, exchange, and understand data, we must standardize the format as well as the meaning.

  • Standards make it easier to create, share, and integrate data by making sure that there is a clear understanding of how the data are represented and that the data you receive are in a form that you expected.
  • Standards provide data integrity, accuracy and consistency, clarify ambiguous meanings, minimize redundant data, and document business rules.
  • In other words, the data become usable to more than just the project or person that created the data, because you know the data will be in an expected format and you know what is represented by the data.

Source: “Data Management.” Data Standards, https://www.usgs.gov/products/data-and-tools/data-management/data-standards.

What do you mean when you talk about infrastructure, interoperability and technology standards?

From the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), technology standards are “documents that provide requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.”

When we talk about technology standards and infrastructure in health professions education, or higher education more broadly, we typically discuss documents that have several of the elements mentioned above. Most standards include a data dictionary, which includes definitions of data elements; a logical model, that defines entities, their properties and relationships; serialization, digital formats for storage or exchange of entities; and protocols, transport layer and message formats for exchanging entities.

All the concepts described above play a part in enabling communication between one or more technologies. This interoperability is a critical factor for the development of education research networks, lifelong learning records, and advanced continuous quality improvement efforts.

What is XML?

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, a Web standard that makes it easier to exchange structured data over the Internet. For example, when you see John Doe, M.D., Pediatrics, you probably know that pediatrics is a medical specialty and that John Doe is a doctor's name. Computers can't interpret that information without some help. XML tags put information in context for computers. An XML member listing for Dr. Doe might look like this:

What is JSON?

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. JSON is a “lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate.” (www.json.org) Similar in purpose to XML, JSON provides a standard format for the transmission of data. A similar listing for Dr. Doe in JSON might look like this:

What are Web Services?

Just as XML serves as a common structure for data, Web services serves as a lingua franca for applications. Web services allows disparate applications and machines to connect with one another through the Internet. These connected applications and machines are able to share information and work together as if they were parts of a single system. As a result, organizations can streamline interactions with partner organizations and save money. And, users can find the content and services they seek in one place instead of jumping from website to website. For example, Amazon.com offers Web services that allow other organizations to integrate book searching and listing functionality directly into their existing websites. Instead of going to the Amazon.com website, users can stay on their favorite site to search for and purchase books through Amazon.

What are APIs?

APIs are Application Programming Interfaces. APIs let applications work together and exchange data. APIs allow applications to get just the right amount of data that they need for the task the user is trying to accomplish, which makes them particularly useful for mobile computing. For example, an application may use an API to retrieve data on the medical schools accredited in a particular country. If the person using the application requests more detail on a specific school, the application can then retrieve the school's data and display that to the user. That way the user can access the most accurate and up-to-date information quickly and easily. MedBiquitous uses JSON and XML for its API standards.

What are the benefits of creating standards?

XML, JSON, and Web services standards make it easier to find information and conduct online transactions. In the airline industry, for example, there are standards for travel information that allow computer systems to exchange data with one another. These standards, in turn, enabled the development of software tools that allow Internet users to search several airlines for flights meeting their travel criteria.

In addition, standards can save programming and administrative time and effort, thereby saving money. Instead of building new applications from scratch, organizations can weave together standards-based components to create an integrated solution efficiently. Providing automated ways for systems to work together dramatically reduces the time and costs associated with importing new information into existing systems. Technology standards also provide the opportunity for organizations to work together in new and innovative ways.

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Participation

How can I get involved?

MedBiquitous is open to anyone interested in health professions education and credentialing data standards. We are committed to an inclusive participation model to encourage adoption and engagement with education technology standards globally. There are several ways to participate in the MedBiquitous community either as an individual or as an organization:

What are the benefits of having my organization join the MedBiquitous Program?

Joining MedBiquitous allows organizations to have a voice in the development of new standards, shaping the future of data sharing and collaboration for the health professions education and credentialing community. Specifically, participating organizations can:

  • Serve on work groups and be involved in the standards development process 
  • Have their representatives serve in leadership roles, including the Steering Committee 
  • Receive access to the MedBiquitous community network 
  • Vote on development efforts  
  • Propose new standards or guidelines that should be created 
  • Influence national/international conversations on education and credentialing data practices 

Is MedBiquitous an interprofessional program?

Healthcare is a team effort, and so is the development of standards. We need input from health professions educators and practitioners, regulatory and government agencies, as well as those that develop the technology.

It is important to have many health professions represented in the development of MedBiquitous standards. As a program of the AAMC, MedBiquitous will continue to welcome participation from all health professions including Nursing, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, and others.

Does MedBiquitous welcome international participants?

The MedBiquitous community is comprised of stakeholders from around the globe who share integral input and perspective. The AAMC will continue to welcome international participation in MedBiquitous’ work.

How can my institution or company become a participating organization?

Interested organizations must apply to the MedBiquitous Program, more information on the application process can be found here. If you have additional questions, please contact medbiq@aamc.org.

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