Digital Healthcare: The Bigger Picture

Before patients were forming opinions about the transition from the use of charts to EHR’S and Doctors use of technology versus metal tools, Digital Health was already changing our health through simple media use.

Straight out of the gate people were concerned with the digital transition the health industry was making, however most did not recognize that technology had already been implementing their health through their own usage. Take the Nike FuelBand for example; this tech savvy accessory tracks your everyday activity through an accelerometer to track your steps, calories burned, distance and activity time. The FuelBand App helps users achieve their health goals. By creating a wearable device that implements activity as ‘fun’ versus ‘work’ into daily life, individuals are improving their health. There are several other bracelets just like this including Fit Bit and Vivosmart by Garmin, not to mention the wide selection of watches that now include a calorie counting and/or heart monitor feature. The primary mistake that individuals make is defining Health by Weight Loss.

The sole purpose of Digital Health is to improve patient care and health. Just like the convenience of that small accessory on your wrist, EHR (Electronic Health Record) serves that same convenience of having your health records accessible. The health of the human body is like a black hole of research, endless. That being said this industry will continue to advance with new innovations.  Due to the miraculous advances technology has made for other areas of society, healthcare is now gravitating towards digital health and technology.

Trying to understand the healthcare industry is like trying to find your house from a plane at 20,000 feet; merely impossible. You have to look at what technology has done for various patients across the world, instead of evaluating the changes your local practice is making. In addition, you have to recognize the innovative minds behind the research, discovery and creation of these technologies. An incredible example of this is an exciting progression within technology, introducing the very first tablet for the blind. Blitab a Vienna-based startup founded by three Bulgarians, is now bringing the tablet experience to blind and visually impaired people. The device is similar to an e-book, but uses liquid-based technology to create small, physical bubbles that rise and fall on the surface on demand to display the necessary text or graphics. The best part is that the user can insert a USB stick or a memory card with various types of text documents, such as a Word .doc or PDF and Blitlab will convert and display them in Braille. It can do the same with web pages and digital maps. In addition, the user can write and edit pages via Braille Perkins keyboard.[i] As an average patient who goes in for an occasional check-up, it was hard see digital health as more than just another money maker. However, my health has always been my number one priority and it pains me to see those who don’t receive proper care or who don’t even have access to the services that the average patient needs. I’m talking about the lack of any health service in underdeveloped countries.

Let us look at underdeveloped countries such as Africa where the population suffers heavily from good health. While this overall fast growing population is gaining more access to technology, extreme urban areas like Nairobi lack any sort of access to general healthcare. That being said, patients are waiting until severe symptoms before seeing a doctor and in this case it is often too late for treatment. Digital Health can reach milestones for this group of people who lack the cost and travel time to make it to a physician when needed. However, there is the possibility of tele-consultations which can be done from central points in the slums which are equipped with computers and webcams, and are connected with various doctors in the city.[ii] This is simply one way that Digital Health can drastically change the lives and the future of the African Population.

Digital Health regardless of where you are in the world requires a secured financial investment, knowledgeable and skilled staff, human resources and a devoted mindset. In a country where cellphones are just now becoming a norm, implementing Digital Health will require proper infrastructure, stronger power supply and internet connection, and general technology will be the hardest task. Investments will also need to be made for a safe and secure system to store patient information. All of this requires funding and unfortunately has to be implemented at the same time, making the process that much harder.

We must not forget the priority of health as it is the primary factor that affects employment, income, and family life. Chau and Hu discuss the preliminaries of technology acceptance. The ease of use of the technology itself is not the most important factor (Chau & Hu, 2002). This means that the practitioners have to be fully involved in the development of Digital Health programmes to ensure it will be developed in a manner which will be accepted by most, if not all, practitioners.[iii] Patients everywhere put trust in the hands of the doctors and nurses who work on them. Especially in a place where time with a doctor, physician or nurse is sacred, patients will need to adapt to the technological transition. The patients must also accept the new relationship dynamics between them and the healthcare practitioner which is established as technology is used for communication and consultation. They must also feel that the technology which they must deal with is easy to use and can be easily integrated into their everyday life (Ballegaard et. al., 2008).[iv] The U.S. has already invested in Digital Health, although the success will come from the patients and providers as they begin to integrate it into this sector of their health.

At the beginning of this article I said Healthcare cannot be evaluated through a looking glass. We must step back and look at the bigger picture of how Digital Health will advance as a worldwide movement. So when you think about how you may not need Digital Health, think about how others may depend on it.

[i] Zareva, Teodora. “The World’s First Tablet for Blind People.” Big Think. Big Think, 14 July 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

[ii] Monthe, Patricia. “Should Kenya Invest in Digital Health? | AHIT News.” <i>AHIT News RSS</i>. Africa Healthcare Media, 09 July 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iii] Monthe, Patricia. “Should Kenya Invest in Digital Health? | AHIT News.” <i>AHIT News RSS</i>. Africa Healthcare Media, 09 July 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.

[iv] Monthe, Patricia. “Should Kenya Invest in Digital Health? | AHIT News.” <i>AHIT News RSS</i>. Africa Healthcare Media, 09 July 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.

Digital Healthcare: The Bigger Picture

Healthcare Informatics: Patients Should Know

Healthcare Informatics: Patients Should Know

The Healthcare Industry is broken up into several sectors. Patients only experience a small side, the side where they wait for a nurse or doctor while they fill out pages of paperwork. Living in the midst of the age of technology, society has integrated it into all areas of daily life. All areas except healthcare have gone through the transition from paper to screen. This is where informatics tags onto the end of healthcare and you get Healthcare Informatics. What does this even mean?

Informatics is simply the use of technology. It was first introduced in the mid 1990’s, where we slowly integrated computers and email into our daily lives. Surely enough, productivity levels in the U.S. had doubled. People began to work faster and smarter through the use of technology.

The one industry lacking speed is Healthcare. For years, it has been paper and chart based. Nurses, doctors and even patients are constantly filling out paperwork, prescribing medicines and documenting patient information. The problem is that there are stacks of lost and unorganized information that slows down the overall process of patient care. Anyone who has been a patient can attest to waiting around for a nurse or doctor, whether it is for a quick check up or prep for surgery. Through EHR’S and CPOE’S, hospitals have already become more efficient. This is only the beginning of Informatics in Healthcare. The ultimate result of incorporating these technologies in the industry is to reduce cost for the patients. The investment in IT is for patients to receive the best care with the most efficient cost. It is natural for patients to trust a nurse or doctor over a machine. However, the innovations of technology have reached great heights of success proving that now is the time for change.

Ideas pulled from:

https://youtu.be/pzS–PaGC9o

Healthcare Informatics: Patients Should Know

Getting a degree in Health IT could be the best decision you make. Here’s why:

http://healthinformatics.uic.edu/resources/articles/5-stunning-statistics-about-the-future-of-health-informatics/Health informatics is a rapidly growing field in one of the largest industries worldwide. Health informatics professionals can expect to see more jobs opening up and more opportunities for innovation as the field continues to emerge.

1. 84 Percent of Healthcare Organizations Have Hired IT Positions in 2014

A survey of 3,400 healthcare providers and organizations reported that in 2014, 84% of them hired at least one IT professional. That’s up 5% from the same survey conducted in 2013. The survey also found that almost 70 percent of them reported a lack of qualified staff. The number one area where they’d like to hire employees? Clinical application support. As health informatics grows as a field, more and more qualified people will be available to take on these crucial jobs. Now is a good time to get a head start in the growing industry.

2. More Than 80 Percent of the Healthcare Sector Uses the Cloud

The cloud is just one new technology of dozens that the healthcare industry is adopting. But with cloud computing, big data, and data management systems constantly changing, the industry will need experienced professionals who are well versed both in medical records keeping and IT to keep systems such as a hospital’s cloud organized and running correctly.

3. $89,000: The Average Salary for Clinical Informatics Positions

If you work in clinical informatics, you’re the person who helps to collect all of a hospital’s data and turn it from terabytes of used space into usable information that can ultimately help save lives. In the technological era, it’s possible to collect and analyze details of health information in a way that’s never happened before. But having someone able to interpret the data and present the findings to doctors in an understandable, usable way is crucial. This important position earns an average of $89,000 a year according to CIO.

4. Health Information has Seen 22% Job Growth in 10 Years

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of health information will experience 22% job growth between 2012 and 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics only references health information technicians in this statistic, meaning that IT jobs in the healthcare sector and health informatics teaching jobs haven’t even been accounted for. Variety and opportunity is vast for those interested in pursuing a career in health informatics.

5. A Health Data Unit Sold for $1.3 Billion

Cerner, one of the largest suppliers of electronic record-keeping systems, just bought an information systems unit from Siemens AG for $1.3 billion. Bloomberg reports that Cerner expects to make a large profit by selling these systems to healthcare organizations, and will be supporting Siemens records systems for at least the next 10 years. With new electronic records systems in place, hospitals and other organizations are going to need to hire more people versed in health informatics to effectively run this new technology.

These are just a few statistics illustrating how quickly health informatics is emerging as a crucial aspect of the healthcare industry. With job opportunities only expected to grow in the next 10 years, it’s a great time to consider health informatics as a career.

Getting a degree in Health IT could be the best decision you make. Here’s why: