MSHMI Student Channels Class Project into Professional Success

Creating Real-World Solutions

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 11, 2019) — When Philip King was thrown headfirst into the world of healthcare information technology, he quickly discovered a talent for it and has since gone on to excel in Kennesaw State’s healthcare IT program.

King is graduating this month from the Michael J. Coles College of Business with a Master of Science in Healthcare Management and Informatics. Since joining the program in 2018, he has built a reputation for mentoring his fellow students, received a competitive industry scholarship and even developed an application as part of a class project that will make his job easier. 

Coles College MSHMI graduate Philip King

“It’s really neat to take something we learned in class, apply it to the real world, and actually see some efficiency gains,” King said. “It was a great proof-of-concept project.”

King is a project manager for a document management company servicing several industries, including the medical field. One of his clients, a large anesthesia practice, needed quick access to their patient records and billing data, which is stored across multiple documents. While thinking through the problem, King received inspiration from his Healthcare Information Systems Development class.

Tasked with creating a working application in the Python programming language, King developed a device that pulls reports that previously had to be accessed manually and displays them for the user. The device, along with the underlying software, eliminates a significant amount of manual work.

“Somebody had to spend a couple of hours every morning checking key data points, looking at the numbers, and reporting them,” he says. “The dashboard I created means that, with the push of a button, they can finish a couple hours of work in five minutes.”

While King created his device for a single client, he is working to adapt it for other customers to use in their businesses. His professor, Dominic Thomas, applauded King’s ability to apply classroom concepts to real-world problem.

“It is really exciting to see a student becoming an effective developer and deploying a real solution in practice within one semester,” Thomas said. “Phil was able to do that at his workplace and make a difference for his whole office.”

King said he always has been interested in technology, and his job managing a family medical practice convinced him that his future was in healthcare IT. Immediately after the practice selected a new electronic health records management system, the vendor’s project manager left on maternity leave, leaving King to implement the system on his own.

“I basically moved into the practice for two months,” he said. “But it ended up being a huge blessing in disguise. We had a large majority of the stuff in the software working, while a lot of other practices that implemented it did not. Other offices in the area started calling to ask how we set it up. From there, it was a short jump for me to get into consulting.”

King has been an independent IT consultant for healthcare providers since 2013 in addition to working in project manager roles for multiple companies.

He came to Kennesaw State’s MSHMI program in 2018 with the goal of advancing his career. What most attracted him to the degree was its combination of IT, business administration and healthcare informatics into a single program.

“There is a huge need for people with the skillset to walk in and out of all three worlds,” King said. “Having this degree is going to open a lot of doors for me.”

King has shined at Kennesaw State. During his first semester, he was one of eight students in the state – and four from the MSHMI program – to receive the David Cowan Scholarship from the Georgia chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. This year, the Coles College of Business presented King with the Outstanding MSHMI Student Award.

“That award recognized Phillip’s academic achievements, his outside recognition and his positive attitude toward learning,” said Sweta Sneha, director of the MSHMI program. “He is an all-around true star.”

King also has become an unofficial mentor to other students in the program. He frequently helps his colleagues work through technical problems, and even offers career advice.

“Informatics is such a new field,” he said. “A lot of students are trying to figure out which route they want to take.”

King is thankful for the many opportunities to grow professionally that the MSHMI program has offered. He said faculty like Thomas have been valuable in developing relevant class projects and providing recommendations for continuing his education with additional learning and certifications. King also appreciates the many chances the program offers him to network with health IT leaders through executive dinners, guest lecturers and gala events.

“The networking opportunities have been phenomenal,” King said. “Sweta does a fantastic job of creating opportunities to sit down with executives who are in a position to hire. I literally walked into my first executive dinner and said, ‘Somebody in this room is going to be my boss one day.’”

—Patrick Harbin

Photograhy by Jason Getz

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