Kyle Martin, content coordinator, Florida Polytechnic University.
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.
Connecting with Hospitals, Doctors and Patients on a Global Scale
Global connectivity has worked wonders on the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases. In the past, an encounter with a rare disease was usually isolated, forcing doctors to research potential cures on their own. Today, we can effortlessly reach out to individuals across the world and access their research, diagnoses and cures, making disease eradication a truly collaborative effort.
In the future, you can expect to see faster, more efficient and more informative global systems that will lead to better results and—hopefully—more cures to worldwide epidemics.
Harnessing Better Insights from Large Datasets
Integrating technology into health care systems and transitioning from paper records to EHRs has led to a mass influx of valuable data. Physicians can analyze these data sets and discover potential health risks, identify health trends, plan treatments, etc.
Today, physicians may spend an overwhelming amount of time sifting through data to find answers. In the future, robust analytical tools will ease the research process and help physicians identify answers faster—and hopefully save more lives in the process.
When it comes to health informatics and how it’s changed patient care delivery, we’ve merely scratched the surface. The future of health informatics is bright, and both patients and providers can expect to see some exciting changes on the horizon.