Healthcare Databases

Topic: Introduction

Learning Module Objectives:

After completing the activities in this section, you should be able to:

  • Know your instructor and course requirements
  • Register for teach-one topics and schedule delivery of teach one assignment ahead of class session
  • Select your team partners for each of the assignments
  • Distinguish among parts of database
  • Distinguish among different types of databases
  • Report why databases matter
  • Define relational databases
  • Describe the relationship of this and other courses in your program
  • Install SQL Server software
  • Import data into SQL Server

Learning Materials

  1. Definition of database and its parts Video► Slides►
  2. Why databases matter? Video► Slides►
  3. Types of databases Read► Video► Slides►
  4. Relational databases You Tube► Slides►
  5. Related courses:

Teach One Assignment

In this course, students learn using the paradigm of learn one, do one, teach one.  For a teach one, you are asked to complete the an assignment one week ahead of time, get approval from the instructor that  it is done correctly, and then narrate and distribute it to the class. We rely on a method typically used in training of medical residents: "Learn one, do one, teach one."  Each student is expected to not only learn the concepts in the course, and do the assignments, but also teach a portion of the course.  This active participation in teaching helps students learn the concepts in the course in more depth.  The best way to learn a topic is to teach it. Students who teach a topic have a deeper understanding of the material. Students are expected to teach by preparing a brief video. Students select which topic they wish to teach. They can teach about any aspect within the topic. Typically students teach how to do an assignment. Student's videos should be reviewed by the instructor prior to release to others and should be released to others prior the topic being discussed in class.

In general, posting the video establishes your professional credentials in the social web and is encouraged by the instructor and the program. Some students may have reservations. Students who do not wish to post their video to a public domain should contact the instructor for an alternative.  These alternatives include posting under an alias, post and remove the video after class ends, or convert the video to flash and email the flash file to the students in class. Do not email the video. Following tools are needed for preparing an online project presentation:

  1. A microphone is necessary to narrate your slides.  Please do not rely on built in microphones for portable computers.
  2. You can capture screenshots and insert it into your slide presentation using Command and Print Screen keys.   MAC Users►
  3. We prefer that you narrate the slides.  Narrate your slides or use other video making software.   Narrate► Free Cam-studio► Camtasia► SWF► IMovie►
  4. After narration go through the slides and remove excess words.  Do not keep sentences, keep only minimal set of keywords that guide the presentation.
  5. Convert the narrated slides to a video format that can be uploaded to the web. If MAC user, this is typically accomplished by saving in a format acceptable by the web site you are uploading to. No talking heads or images of yourself should be included.
  6. Upload your narrated slides. We prefer U-Tube.  Author Stream► U-Tube►
  7. Put within the description of the file upload the following statement:  "This presentation was prepared as part of the HAP xxx course on xxx taught by Farrokh Alemi, PhD at George Mason University  Department of Health Administration and Policy." Add a sentence about you to the description, e.g. xxx is a student in xxx field graduating in xxx..  Keep in mind that the work you are uploading will remain on the web for years to come and will help shape your career.
  8. Share your narrated slides publicly so all students in the class can view it.  Use blackboard to email the link to everyone in class.

Modern health systems administrators must present their ideas effectively.  Effective presentation includes:

  1. Use appropriate content. Managers are often called upon to give voice to customers concerns. This is best done through use of multimedia.
  2. Have a consistent style (the same font, capitalization policy, color, and size throughout the video).
  3. Make one, and only one, point per slide.
  4. Do not write sentences in slide, write a few words that could guide the viewer, speak the full sentences.
  5. Make sure all texts on slides are readable, even after compression to fit the video requirements.  A U-tube video reduces PowerPoint slides to 1/4 of their original size. Phone views have additional reductions.  Keep the font size larger than 36 points.
  6. Make sure the narration is clear and continuous.  Occasional hiccups are ok, keep them, they add color.
  7. Set compression levels high enough to be understood in a noisy room.

Please sign up for your teach one assignment.  All teach one assignments must be completed ahead of scheduled class topic and approved by the instructor prior to circulation.  Make sure that you select a topic not selected by other students. 

Individual Assignments

Assignment 1: Download Microsoft SQL Server. First read the instructions before you do the download.  Microsoft software library is available free of charge to select George Mason University students. Once you successfully sign in, select SQL Server 2014 Express With Advanced Services with Service Pack 1 32/64-bit (English). This assignment is related to the learning module skill-based objective of "Install SQL Server software". Download► Slides► Video Instruction►
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Assignment 2: LinkedIn Assignment: Create a LinkedIn page for yourself.  Post your page to the discussion area and request to be a contact for the instructor's LinkedIn page as well as your classmates. Some students do not wish to maintain a public page.  If you wish not to do this assignment on LinkedIn page, please provide an alternative.  An acceptable alternative could be to create the same content in a Word document and email it to the instructor and other students. Think through where you want to work, once you graduate from the health informatics program. Once you have selected 3 organizations, find 1 individual within each of the 3 organizations who can help you understand the organization better or who might be hiring in future. Send the name of these individuals and their LinkedIn URL to the instructor. Review the instructor's LinkedIn contacts to see who he could write to and introduce you. Remind the instructor for the need to do so by end of the class. These introductions are for you to network with key people who can help you change jobs or be employed using SQL and health informatics.  The instructor can only do this if you are one of his contacts. This portion of the assignment is done by the instructor at end of the course. This assignment is related to learning module objectives of "Know your instructor and course requirements."  Alemi's LinkedIn►

Assignment 3: Discussion of Why Databases Matter? There is research that suggests that computerized physician order entry increases mortality. There are also papers that prove otherwise.  For this discussion, you are to read the following two articles, which present arguments from both perspectives:

  • Article 1: Unexpected Increased Mortality After Implementation of a Commercially Sold Computerized Physician Order Entry System  Read►
  • Article 2: Computerized Provider Order Entry Implementation: No Association With Increased Mortality Rates in an Intensive Care Unit  Read►

Your Initial post should include the following: (1) Identify under what conditions computerized physician order entry may increase patient mortality. (2) If the point you want to make has already made by another person, make a new point but copy and paste at least one additional article from PubMed into the discussion that supports your perspective. Don't make an entry without pasting the URL of related article.  (3) Refrain from incorporating your personal opinion into this discussion, it should be fact based and supported by peer reviewed papers.  PubMed►

Your initial post should be 150-300 words and must include a URL for a PubMed article. Please provide response with a clear, well-formulated thesis; sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling count. If you are responding to the post of another classmate, it should be approximately 200 words and should be thoughtful, substantial, polite and more extensive than a simple "well done" phrase or "I agree." Consider points of agreement, disagreement, assumptions, and value judgments. All responses should also include the URL of the related article. No URL, no post. This assignment is related to the learning module objective of "Report why databases matter."

Team Assignment

Please work in teams of 2 persons. At submission, indicate the name of your team member.  No team assignments should be completed with a person you have previously worked with.  Each member of the team should submit a separate assignment.  No copying of code from each other but feel free to learn from each other.  If team assignments are completed with individual effort, then the student loses 10% of the grade.   

Import Data: Download data in four zipped files. For password contact your instructor.  By opening this file you agree not to share the file with anyone else.  Unzip the files in two steps, first to get to the directory and then to get to the actual file.  Read the data into Microsoft SQL server.  To create the database, open SQL server and right click on the database and start a new database.  Right click on the database, select "Tasks," select "Import Data," select "Flat File Source" as the source of the data, change file type to "CSV Files," browse to where you unzipped the files, indicate that field names are in the first row, select as destination "SQL Server Native Client" file type. Upload the first 4 lines of the merged data into Blackboard as proof of completion of the assignment.  This assignment is related to learning module skill-based objective of "Import data into SQL Server."  Video► Download► SQL► Slides► Screen Shots►


  1. Competencies needed for management of health information systems  Slides► Video► Read►
  2. Post-relational databases PubMed►
  3. Use of relational databases in health care PubMed►
  4. A case study for integrating relational data in clinical databases PubMed►
  5. Informatics services for healthcare improvement  PubMed►

This page is part of the course on Healthcare Databases taught by various instructors. It was last edited on Wednesday August 29, 2018 by Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D.