Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Timothy Peck, iClickEM

Osmosis Team
Published on Aug 22, 2014. Updated on Invalid date.

Dr. Timothy Peck is an Emergency Medicine physician as well as the founder of a mobile iClickEM. Through his app, Dr. Peck has consolidated reliable information of Emergency Medicine doctors to use and hopes to expand to more fields of medicine. Dr. Peck is committed to improving quality of the healthcare system and we were delighted to speak with him about both iClickEM and medical education.

How did you decide on a career in medicine?

I have wanted to be an educator for my entire life. My family was filled with educators, as well as social service members. There were people who were social workers, people who worked for homeless services, for religious services, but there was no science or medicine in my family. However, I happened to be good at science, medicine, math, etc. I put the passion that was put in me as a younger child hanging out in a homeless shelter and doing charity work into my ability to do science and medicine to become a doctor. But underlying that, there is this want and this family culture that everyone should be an educator. So, I looked into being and educator when I was in college. I wanted to look into being a scientist and getting a PhD then teach that at a college level or even at the high school level and be an administrator. Then I realized that medicine combines that all of these values. I think that being an educator in medicine I can practice science as well as give back to the community and be a social service provider

What made you specialize in Emergency Medicine?

I went through medical school not having any idea of what I wanted to be. Even through third year, I kind of liked medicine, I kind of liked surgery, I kind of liked radiology, I kind of liked cardiology, but there was nothing that that I could connect to. I then decided to take some time off from medical school to figure out what I wanted and with that time, I went to Haiti. I went there to do humanitarian work and a lot of education and a lot of microeconomics with the community. I was also working in the hospital. In Haiti, everything was an emergency. Everything was working without any resources, having to execute medicine without having as much information as you might want. I realized after that experience that maybe Emergency Medicine would be a good fit for me. My first rotation when I got back from Haiti was in Emergency Medicine and I found it to be the perfect fit and I fell in love with the specialty. I loved the idea of making decisions based on small amounts of information, making quick decisions, and trying to get a clinical situation from a sick person that might not be able to speak to you. That is where my passion of Emergency Medicine was born.

iClickEM is a mobile app designed to be a reliable source for physicians use. What inspired you to create iClickEM?

iClickEM was an idea that started while I was in medical school. The difficulty I had with obtaining all of this information that was being created in this free, open access medical education movement. This was a problem for me and I wanted to curate all of the information. I started by asking friends what was their best resources, what did they like more, and I started to make a library of that myself. Then I stepped that up a little bit and went into a wordpress site. I tried to use the wordpress site as a reddit feature where people upvoted and downvoted things. This was relying on the users and the doctors uploading stuff to the sight. I found that failed miserably because I could not depend on doctors and residents to give in the content because people do not really have the time to make that happen. From there I realized that I needed more tech. I needed someone that was trained in being an engineer and trained in machine learning algorithms. I tried to look for that in academics and realized that I needed someone that I could team up with to make that happen and I needed to step outside of academics to do that. Then I found a partner who was willing to step out of medical school, I found a partner who was willing to step out of her postdoc in radiology, I found a partner who was willing to build the platform to make this idea a reality. We realized we needed to stay in clinical medicine but also have our finger on the pulse of what is going on in clinical medicine to give our users what they need. From that we created a company and that has been going well.


What is your goal for iClickEM?

The goal for iClickEM is to provide a service to curate the information that exists in clinical medicine so that we an answer clinical questions at the time that those providers need it. As an Emergency Medicine physician I use my phone more than I use my stethoscope. I use my phone to look at apps to make sure that the medicines that I am giving are the correct dosages, or even the correct antibiotics. I use my app to use clinical decision rules to treat patients. I am using the internet either on my phone or on my iPad in order to find information to teach the residents that I work with. I use the internet to get information at home when I am looking at primary literature or even looking at textbooks in order to learn different things. There are a lot of different systems in place, and a lot of it is dependent upon the fact that I know that I can trust certain resources because I vetted them myself. I know that a certain app, or even just a certain piece of information in that app is correct because I have validated it in the past myself. That is a cumbersome process. All of my colleagues are doing the same process for themselves but if we could crowdsource that information, if we could put all of our energy to help one another, we can create a service in which we do not have to duplicate that process. All you would need to do is search our app, or search our program, and get the best clinical answer to the situation that you are in. What we are doing, creating something for Emergency Medicine first because that is what I know best, but the goal of this is to spread out to 37 other search engines and give a platform to every field in medicine.

How do you think technology has impacted Emergency Medicine?

The two tools that I need most to be a good Emergency Medicine physician, or to enhance the training that I already had and the medical knowledge that I already have, are the wealth of information the internet and open access. Having a stethoscope to listen to heart sounds is not quite as good as looking at that heart with an ultrasound. Large pieces of management especially in trauma patient with an easy fast exam with an ultrasound has completely changed what we do. I can not only make diagnoses quicker with that ultrasound but I can also access the world’s information with a phone and have that immediately rather that going back to my desk and going a flipping through a procedure handbook or flipping through a physician desk reference. Instead, I have that right in my hand. Those two pieces of technology are how technology has been used in Emergency Medicine. I am a medical educator as well, and the I have had the ability to share information with my own learners as well as with the learners across all of medicine through the power of the internet. I have been able to share information at a different rate and have a much larger influence than anyone who has been an educator in the past simply because I can reach them.

What changes do you think need to be made in order to bridge the gap between technology and medical education?

I think that an enormous part of medical education is who owns that medical education, who owns the resources, and who is providing the resources. Right now there is a movement for free open access medical education. That is an amazing movement in which anyone can have access to a plethora of information but you sacrifice validity for the editing abilities, entertainment and a more enjoyable experience. However, that is not the complete answer. You need that to push forward the other people who own and provide medical education who are not in the publishing houses and academic centers. They are, at least in part, monetarily driven so they need to charge for their materials. I think that what needs to happen is that the information that is held in textbooks, journal articles, and other platforms owned by those publishing houses need to be vetted against the free open access medical education resource. If there is a way to put both two resources next to one another and have that available to users at a useful level, would be ideal. The problem is that the textbooks cost a lot. They are unavailable to a large portion of the users because they are so costly. I think that those publishers are going to need to figure out a different revenue model in order to reach their users otherwise they will lose them to free open access resources. Both resources have value to them, textbooks are able to guarantee more validity, while open access resources provide more up to date information. Hopefully, these two sources will be able to come together.