There will always be careers in health care for persons with a desire to help and care for others. Aside from abilities relative to basic patient care, anyone beginning a health care career now and in the future will need more than basic computer skills. The increasing use of technology in health data management adds a new dimension to the skill set required just a few decades ago.
The next new high demand specialty in the health care field may be the Healthcare Data Analyst. As more information about patient care is entered into digital databases, more complex processes will be needed to retrieve the information and use it in ways to improve hospital efficiency and patient care.
Knowing how to query the database to pull out the relevant information and use it effectively will require skill with statistical analysis. This is in addition to knowing what relevant information to look for.
There are a number of software platforms available for health care institutions to choose from for their clinical data storage and retrieval. Designers of those systems are often physicians themselves, or have strong ties to the medical field. They often have a problem to solve, and data management is the fist step in finding a solution.
Armed with a repository full of data, hospital decision makers can direct resources to specific health treatments and programs that will have the greatest impact on their patient population.
A clinical analytics application with completely integrated data from a large health care enterprise can identify and reduce gaps in patient care and resource management. By “aggregating data from the health system’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) and other critical IT systems,” a skilled healthcare data analyst can tailor a query to evaluate readmission rates for instance. Then she can work with physicians and hospital staff to develop a strategy to lower the numbers. Along with saving the hospital valuable resources, insurance providers and the patients will also see savings.
Development of software that allows the patient to take a more active role in his own health care is gaining in popularity. An approach known as telemedicine is expected to save the health care industry and its clients up to six billion dollars per year.
With telemedicine, patients and physicians can communicate via telephone or video and can often resolve issues without needing an office visit. In addition, nurses and other hospital staff are often able to answer questions that don’t involve diagnosing conditions or prescribing medications.
Research is an area where electronic health records can have a tremendous impact. Studies can be designed to analyze disease trends within the hospital’s own patient population or on a global scale. There can be problems, though, when clinicians ask information technology workers for sets of data.
Applying clinical analytics to disordered data sets may be more time consuming than a busy physician would like to deal with. IT workers may not understand all the ramifications of the data they generate in response to requests from researchers. Healthcare data analysts can bridge many of these communications gaps by having a foot in each world.
Healthcare has a compelling need to use more information, better. Software engineers who can help medical enterprises achieve that goal will not lack for work for the foreseeable future.