We are launching a series of blog posts dedicated to various EIT Health programmes, providing a platform for programme participants to share their personal experience. The first blog post focuses on the Master programme – Health Medical Data Analytics and Entrepreneurship, a two-year programme offered by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA), Universidade de Lisboa (UL), and the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, whose aim is to equip students with sophisticated skills in data analytics for health applications. In addition, students also receive advanced training on how to exploit their ideas, turn them into viable businesses, and create new solutions for healthcare needs. We reached out to the participating students and Mohammed Shkokani was willing to share his story.
Start of the journey
10 July 2019 was my first day in Europe. An internship at Siemens Healthineers was waiting for me. With five years of biomedical engineering behind me, I was ready to take up the next chapter of my life. During my studies, I felt passionate about designing and examining new medical devices that can help reduce the patient’s pain as well as finding new ways to improve the healthcare system around the world. My goal was to help shape the future of healthcare, and one way to achieve that was to get some real hands-on experience.
First contact with HDMA
As the most innovative university in Germany, Friedrich Alexander University was my preferred choice. It was the perfect continuation of my Master’s degree. Browsing through their curriculum, I came across HDMA, the Master’s degree in Health Medical Data Analytics, supported by EIT. Taking a closer look at the study program, I came to realise that the program offers both theoretical and practical knowledge to solve complex healthcare problems facing patients every day. Moreover, it intends to achieve greater integration of innovation, entrepreneurship, and business skills and opens up new career opportunities. I was intrigued.
A coffee with Felix
It was a lovely day when I met Felix, the program coordinator, for the first time. We had coffee over a discussion about my home country Palestine, and my path to Europe. It was Felix who first introduced me to the EIT network and explained how the EU-wide network supports educational programs to prepare the health workforce to navigate future challenges brought on by an ever-evolving technological and digital landscape in the health and healthcare sectors. According to him, the students become role models in European higher education because EIT Health delivers a unique brand of excellent and relevant education that focuses on current health care problems. Additionally, the program was providing the students with the opportunity to get training in an international mindset through a mandatory semester abroad, which is to be spent in one of the programme partner universities. I was convinced. The two-year master’s program was the right path for me to start my career life.
The learning experience
When John F. Kennedy said “That is what learning is, you suddenly understood something you have understood all your life, but in a new way” he perfectly described how I felt during the programme. From day one, the diversity has made the learning experience very exciting. The programme is at the intersection of health informatics, data science, and digitation and this multidisciplinary approach can be very beneficial when it comes to idea generation. For example, as I learned more and more, my ideas always included parts of at least two, and sometimes three disciplines. Studying in a multicultural environment is another advantage. As a key factor in building strong relationships, being able to learn with colleagues from all over the world, and hear their stories and experiences, it has enriched me in a way I could not even imagine before.
The curriculum itself was also very interesting. One of the most exciting courses I attended was the innovation lab course because it gave me the chance to learn what it means to build a new product and launch it on the market. Moreover, the foundations of innovation and how to manage innovation in the 21st century. This is extremely important for me, as I am constantly brainstorming ideas and hopefully, founding a startup one day. Lastly, the programme enables an early connection with MedTech companies and hospitals and being able to gain insights into their real needs has given me a more realistic view of the health tech sector.
Next to come
From my first day at HMDA, I knew that my study programme brought together four top-notch universities from different European countries and that I would get the opportunity to interact with them in some way. And then the first opportunity came. The letter confirming my participation in the summer school in France in November 2020. Learning from Health Data Program with the European Scientific Institute is an excellent chance for me to meet colleagues and expand my horizons. I am super excited to be part of it. And then comes Spain. My mobility semester next year at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Another great feature of the program: international mobility.
What the future holds
An ageing population, the impact of lifestyle factors, and increasing healthcare costs are some of the challenges that European healthcare systems face. This – coupled with a drive towards personalised medicine – presents an opportunity for a step-change in healthcare delivery and data analytics can provide a way out.
Health data science is considered to be the future of healthcare and has the potential to reshape it. The possible benefits from healthcare analytics include reducing costs of treatment, predicting outbreaks of epidemics, avoiding preventable diseases, and improving the quality of life in general.
HDMA is at the centre of it. It aims to create a new breed of scientists who can understand the healthcare sector and medicine, how data is collected and analysed, and how this can be communicated to influence various stakeholders.
If you too feel inspired by the shifts digitalisation brings to the healthcare system and are motivated to bring the necessary changes to the sector, then HDMA is the perfect choice for you. If you too want to receive a state-of-the-art education in innovation and entrepreneurship tailored to healthcare, then think no more. My name is Mohammed, and I am here to help you start your journey with HMDA. For any questions, feel free to reach me at Mohammedshkokani@outlook.com.
For more information on the programme, please refer to the official website.