Technology Drives Advancements and Career Opportunities Outside of Traditional Tech
From retail, financial services, utilities and even agriculture (think driverless tractors), skilled tech workers are in high demand. Manufacturers are embracing robotics. The automotive industry relies on cloud computing to track inventory. The transportation sector utilizes big data analytics to managing traffic and logistics. And what company doesn’t lose sleep over their cybersecurity planning and readiness? Therefore, if you are planning a career in tech, don’t just think Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. There are myriad opportunities and industries you can pursue. If healthcare is your passion, please read on. We have profiled some of the most interesting tech trends in healthcare and how they are improving patient care and saving lives. We also give a hearty shout out to a community college that is collaborating with Seattle Children’s to prepare students and those seeking new opportunities to get started on the path to a career in healthcare IT.
Technology at the Heart of Healthcare
The technological core of any hospital is its healthcare information system (HIS); it is an essential component of improving care delivery and patient outcomes. Its main functionality is to collect, store, manage and transmit a patient’s electronic medical record. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the benefits of an HIS include: “facilitating communication between health care providers; improving medication safety, tracking, and reporting; and promoting quality of care through optimized access to and adherence to guidelines.”
Even though the HIS plays a critical role in the functioning of modern hospitals, there are many newer technologies that are being added into the hospital’s ecosphere. A key challenge for hospital IT staff is how these new innovative systems can be integrated with their existing IT infrastructure. Some of the exciting tech trends and products that are already playing important roles in healthcare are:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- AI-assisted Robotic Surgery
According to Forbes.com, “… robots can analyze data from pre-op medical records to guide a surgeon’s instrument during surgery, which can lead to a 21% reduction in a patient’s hospital stay. Robot-assisted surgery is considered ‘minimally invasive,’ so patients won’t need to heal from large incisions. Via artificial intelligence, robots can use data from past operations to inform new surgical techniques.”
- HoloAnatomy Virtual Reality Educational Tool
HoloAnatomy was created by the Case Western University Team, in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic and Microsoft HoloLens. This tool helps instructors visualize and represent any aspect of human anatomy, including the cardiovascular system, individual organs and much more. Students can wear a HoloLens headset in a classroom setting as the instructor guides them through custom-designed 3D lectures, complete with visuals of human anatomy in different positions and scales.
- Digital twins are described as the virtual representation of a physical object or system across its life cycle. According to Plug and Play Tech Center, “They are highly complex digital models that are the exact counterpart, or twin, of a physical thing.” An example of the use of digital twins in healthcare is as follows: “By creating a digital twin of a hospital, stakeholders can review the operational strategies, capacities, staffing, and care models to determine what actions to take and plan for future challenges. A digital twin can assist in bed shortages, controlling staff schedules, and operating rooms. Access to this information will help optimize patient care, cost, and performance.”
Robust Growth Expected for Tech Jobs in Healthcare
As healthcare continues to intersect with technology, new and plentiful career opportunities are being created. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that jobs for health information technicians will grow by 15% through 2024. And by 2026, the rate of growth for health IT workers is expected to be twice the national average.
Additionally, according to Medical Technology Schools, “Health informatics jobs are on the rise — positions related to the collection, processing, and secure storage of health information to preserve clinical histories and processing medical billing. The [Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS 2020] report notes the emergence of many difficult-to-fill positions in subfields such as medical coding, clinical applications, clinical analyses, and leadership roles across the healthcare IT spectrum, with some requiring a two-year associate degree or less.”
How Community Colleges Are Preparing Students for Careers in Healthcare IT
By collaborating with industry, Washington state’s community colleges design the training and certificate programs that prepare students to meet the workplace skill standards of local and regional employers. A case in point: in the state’s tech epicenter, Seattle Colleges partnered with Seattle Children’s to create a healthcare IT certificate program that students can complete in nine months. The program covers foundational IT skills, customer service skills and exposure to Epic, the leading electronic health record system in the country. Students who successfully complete the program will receive CompTIA A+ certification, the industry standard for establishing a career in IT and the preferred qualifying credential for technical support and IT operational roles.
Melvin Smith, supervisor of IT core operations, Seattle Children’s, and adjunct professor, Seattle Colleges, states, “Our hospital has had a continuous partnership with Seattle Colleges. Together, we are creating a sustainable IT training program that will help meet the future workforce needs of regional healthcare delivery employers. This consistent collaboration has been very beneficial to our organization.”
Seattle Children’s received a grant to create the healthcare IT certificate program, which gives students a micro-credential and steppingstone to entry-level positions with starting salaries that range from $50,000 to $65,000 a year.
Smith adds, “The program is unique in that it gives students an understanding of how technologies like Epic are utilized. In the certificate program, I teach Epic Essentials, which gives our students an understanding of how Epic works from an end user’s perspective. And we discuss the technology from a hardware and a software perspective. Through this exposure, students gain an understanding of how clinical workflows play a role in the technology they are learning.”
About Seattle Children’s
Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.
Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Foundation, along with Seattle Children’s Guild Association – the largest all volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country – works with our generous community to raise funds for lifesaving care and research.
About Seattle Colleges
Seattle Colleges, a multi-college district, serves Seattle and its surrounding communities at three comprehensive college campuses and five specialty training centers. As an open-access learning institution, Seattle Colleges prepares each student for success in life and work, fostering a diverse, engaged and dynamic community. Learn more.