The Future of Health Informatics in 2017 – And Beyond

Kyle Martin, content coordinator, Florida Polytechnic University.

Kyle Martin

The impact of the digital revolution is widespread, but arguably few industries have felt the impact more than the health informatics field. From medical mobile applications to vital-monitoring wearables, smart technology is taking the health care world by storm and remodeling patient care delivery.

Over the years, health informatics has strengthened provider-patient relationships and empowered patients to take control of their health care. But that’s just the beginning. Here’s a look at how health informatics will take shape in 2017 and continue to be one of the most promising fields for STEM careers.

Improving Patient and Hospital Information Security

Cybersecurity is top of mind for health care specialists as the world grows increasingly reliant on technology. From large retail chains to voting polls, cybersecurity breaches are on the rise. And hospitals are no exception. Earlier this year, a hospital in Kansas reported a cyber attack in which the hackers forced the hospital to pay a ransom in exchange for unfreezing their data.

Understandably, hospitals are desperately seeking new ways to improve the security of their data. Hospitals are addressing vulnerabilities by making security a part of their existing governance, risk management and business development initiatives. By building more secure network infrastructures and educating all staff, hospitals are able to better protect their information in the short term. In the longer term, it will come down to hiring more security specialists to identify and correct security threats. This is why the cybersecurity field is taking off and more individuals are earning cyber security degrees to gain entry into the field.

Decreasing Healthcare Costs in the Long Run

Before things get better, they tend to get worse—and that seems to be the case with healthcare costs. At first, the cost of health care will rise as hospitals and physicians’ offices purchase and implement new systems. But once the upfront cost has been covered, these new systems and machines will decrease operational costs for hospitals by simplifying daily processes.

On the other hand, individuals seeking health care will see the long term benefit thanks to the increased efficiency of electronic health records (EHRs). Since EHRs provide a comprehensive overview of health history, it will become easier to identify potential health risks and administer treatments early on with fewer doctor visits. Early detection and diagnosis is key to lowering health care costs and, ideally, making us a healthier population.

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Who Can Turn Your Staff’s “Medical Minds” into “Data-Driven Docs?”

Guest post by Nora Lissy, RN, BSN, MBA, director of healthcare information, Dimensional Insight.

Nora Lissy
Nora Lissy

A recent report from Research and Markets predicts that the healthcare data analytics sector will grow to more than $34.27 billion by the end of 2022. This is indicative of how hospitals and health systems are realizing the intrinsic value in an analytics capability—which can be leveraged for everything from capturing information to interpreting the data—to make more informed care decisions. From a provider standpoint however, many physicians are still struggling to close the gap between turning data insights into actionable care improvements. For example, looking at a data set of former pharmaceutical plans for patients with asthma and using the information to make a more informed prescribing decisions for a current patient.

So what can healthcare organizations do to help bridge the divide between the clinical staff and the IT department to make it easier for doctors and clinicians to see how analytics can be applied in their day-to-day care routine? To start, they need to identify which members of their clinical staff have a “data mind” and can easily see how data can be turned into care improvement. For example, looking at an analysis of a hospital’s patient care transitions and adjusting patient handoffs to be more streamlined across departments. A person in this role can communicate to both the clinical and IT sides of the house why data needs to be presented in a certain way and where care adjustments and enhancements can be made.

So how can you find this diamond in the rough who has the ability to turn providers’ “Medical Minds” into “Data Docs” of tomorrow? Here are three tips to help determine who the best person at your organization would be to help fill these shoes:

Who is your organization’s “go-to?”

Who is the one person in your organization/department who everyone goes to with questions? It can be anything from a question about a schedule change or process to a new patient’s medication history. In many cases, this doesn’t even need to be someone from the clinical side or from the IT side. It simply should be someone who has a global view of the organization and who is familiar with the clinical side and has an understanding of what needs to happen on the technical side.

Who has good business intuition?

Someone who has a natural knack in the business world also typically has a data-oriented mindset. This is someone who is not afraid to question the reasoning behind certain recommendations and processes. This is not to say that this individual is counterproductive, but instead is the problem solver. Much like the organization’s go-to contact, this person also sees the full organizational picture rather than just through the lens of the department that they work for and are instilled with ability to translate the business and operational needs into the technical needs.

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