The concurrent transformation of health care and higher education is a remarkable rarity. In fact, a pair of trillion-dollar industries simultaneously undergoing radical changes to extend reach and improve outcomes is unprecedented.
While seemingly disparate, the two sectors share the common goals of increasing access, gaining operational efficiencies, and providing high pertinent value at scale. The delivery of both care and instruction is becoming more proactive and relevant, molding new paradigms and opportunities for personalized health and individualized learning.
In the past decade, giant technology companies have moved in earnest into the healthcare and education domains. Their staggering size and capabilities place them in a position to reshape these fields through the broad application of novel approaches and products. Significant disruption from outside of the traditional health care and education segments is expected, with far-reaching implications in patient care and higher education. One might envision individualized wellness and instructional programs that cross conventional geographical and system boundaries through widely available capabilities that only the largest companies can effectively offer.
Just as noteworthy are the tremendous advances being put forth by companies inherent to the health and education industries, such as those involved in medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, digital health, and educational technology. These domain experts operate at a high level of innovation with short product life cycles and a culture of continuous improvement. Collectively, they form a dense web of capacity and proficiency that continues to propel well-being and the pursuit of knowledge to new heights.
At the confluence of these transformational and ostensibly different rivers of health and education lies biomedical engineering. This academic discipline, with its dual research and instructional missions, is in many ways the mortar that bonds these sources of simultaneous disruption. Key to this integrative role of university-based biomedical engineering is its productive partnerships with technology companies, healthcare organizations and medical schools, as well as edtech and services providers. Through its unique position at the intersection of medical technology research and developing the engineering talent pool to meet company needs, biomedical engineering is the very nexus of disruption.
The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University leverages this sweet spot in extraordinary ways. Through long-standing partnerships with such major companies as Cook Medical and Eli Lilly, faculty members design and develop the next generation of hybrid medical devices that form an emerging connected-care web of healthier living.
Via our institutional alliance with the largest medical school in the U.S., the Indiana University School of Medicine, training programs at the forefront of novel instructional delivery including virtual laboratories provide vanguard educational experiences for next-generation leaders. All of these collaborations meld advanced data analytics with wearable sensors, point-of-care diagnostics, and remote instructional technologies to create entirely new ways of disseminating health care and adaptive learning. And these advances are not limited to adults, as expanding partnerships with Cook Medical and a large number of physicians at the Riley Hospital for Children yield improvements in individualized and connected care for children of all ages.
The biomedical engineering discipline fosters a culture of disruption on both the health care and the education fronts. This modus operandi goes beyond innovation and embodies a keen desire to replace existing health care and instructional practices with futuristic ones that enhance clinical and learning outcomes. Transformational forces no doubt will continue to attract imaginative and inventive minds to this burgeoning realm and thereby ensure a major worldwide imprint for disruptive biomedical engineering.
Dane A. Miller Head and Professor
Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering, Purdue University