Medical Data Inspires New Major

Lauren Kirschman -

Assistant Professor Michael Kistler has worked in the health care field for more than 20 years, starting with his time as a medical logistics officer for the military.


Setting up hospitals and coordinating supplies sparked Kistler’s interested in medical care. Then Kistler started thinking about medical data, wondering what we can do with it and how it can be helpful.

A few years later, while working at UPMC, Kistler began figuring out the answers. Kistler, who also continues to serve in the Army, started as a senior researcher for UPMC and is now a telemedicine technology senior manager.

“When you check in for a doctor’s appointment, sometimes they take a little bit of information,” Kistler said. “Even that little bit of information goes into a database somewhere.”

Your age, weight, family health history, and other details help medical professionals to predict what health trends and medical conditions may be pertinent to you.

Now, Kistler is the Director of Carlow’s new Healthcare Data Analytics program, which will welcome its first students in September.

While hospitals are major employers of Healthcare Data Analytics majors, opportunities analyzing information aren’t limited to healthcare. That’s why Kistler filled his advisory committee with representatives from multiple industries — like PNC Bank and Microsoft — that also need to understand what’s happening in healthcare.

“I like to just kind of open up the world of possibilities to [students],” Kistler said, “all the different things and places they can go and share some of the things that I’ve done and maybe they want to go in some of those similar directions.”

The Healthcare Data Analytics curriculum was built in order to address what the industry needs, Kistler said. Information technology courses give students a solid foundation, while medical field and biology courses prepare them to understand physiology, anatomy and other data.

“People who understand [data] and can use it,” Kistler said, “there’s a need for those folks in all different areas.”

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