Careers in Health Informatics & the CloudAugust 16, 2018
Article Written by Avery Phillips
Thanks to big data, the cloud, and the ever-advancing march of technology, the face of healthcare is changing. With that comes the need for additional staff trained in how to use technology to its fullest in order to better serve patients. From treating chronic diseases through research, management, and prevention, to trying to combat SIDS in infants, let’s look at at what these new careers do, and how they use the cloud to do their job.
How nurses interact with information is different than even a decade ago. Nurse informaticists and chief nursing informatics officers are positions that did not exist, as the technology simply wasn’t there.
These positions use big data to not only care for patients but affect practices and policies within their organization. They might use predictive analysis culled from big data to ensure proper staffing levels at any given time, even as far as predicting 120 days out. This not only helps ensure there’s staff to take care of patients but can also reduce burnout in the nurses.
Uploading documentation to the cloud also means the patient’s health record follows them. If they are transferred to another facility, papers don’t need to be faxed over. Instead, they can be pulled up instantly on a computer. Analyzing said records can also help nurses determine the most efficient way to treat patients, improving outcomes and streamlining workflow.
Clinical Informatics Analyst
A clinical informatics analyst, like the previous nursing positions, also affects policies and practices but makes that a focus of the job, rather than also being a nurse. Their scope is wider, as well, affecting the business side of healthcare. They are also charged with maintaining computer systems and compiling data reports. They interpret data, analyzing science, engineering, business and other data processing problems in the healthcare world, using this data to create guidelines and regulations, and improve clinical practices and standards.
Unlike the nursing positions, which most upload and analyze data, the clinical informatics analyst also develops programs and maintains the database that captures the data. Aside from affecting change, they also look for business opportunities for their systems in order to generate income.
Finally, there are app developers. While perhaps not exactly a new concept, apps are always being developed using new technology to improve telehealth. These apps might be for smartphones or integrate into wearables like a Fitbit or smart watch. These apps could capture biometric data and, should they detect something wrong, immediately alert your doctor.
For example, Juan-Pablo Segura pitched his idea to investors for a healthcare app on the first episode of The Pitch podcast. It would come with a blood pressure cuff and scale. Each week, an expectant mother would weigh herself and take her blood pressure. The app would capture this info, send it to the cloud, and then to the woman’s doctor. This means fewer doctor’s appointments and better early warning of something wrong.
While using apps to send data to the cloud and your doctors sounds like a great idea, is it as safe as data captured at the doctor’s office itself? Are we putting too much trust in the security of the cloud when hackers can steal millions of credit card numbers? This is one of the key points for app developers: dealing with HIPAA. Any app dev will have to make sure their app is as secure as possible or face mounting fines. In 2015, 1 in 3 Americans were affected by a healthcare data breach, costing an average of $363 per lost or stolen medical record.
On top of this, the FDA barely regulates health and wellness apps. Lumosity is the poster child for this, claiming that it would give your brain a boost with its games. However, these claims were dubious at best, and the company settled with the FTC for $2 million. Whether developing or purchasing an app, it’s best to investigate any claims made about how the app will make you healthier.
Whether it’s through brand-new technology, like predictive analysis, or simply upgrading and advancing technology, like apps for new wearables, big data is affecting the healthcare industry and creating new jobs. If you are in the healthcare world, but have a love of technology and the cloud, these emerging and evolving careers could be for you.
About the Author
Avery Phillips is a unicorn of a human being who loves all things relating to people and their entrepreneurial spirits. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian.