Schools Training

A HIT Career – Health Information Systems

10 APR 2013
Career Path : Healthcare

When people talk about career options that are experiencing the most consistently heavy demand, health care and computer technology tend to top the list. Putting the two together creates the rapidly growing field of Health Information Systems (HIT). Despite the importance of technology in diagnostic and treatment application, healthcare has been slower than other industries to adapt to complete computer integration in the workplace. The old jokes about doctors’ illegible handwriting and missing patient charts were commonplace in the era of paper domination but with such an information-intensive industry, it is inevitable that HIT will transform operations.

Until very recently, all medical records were stored in extensive cabinets of paper files. Manual, handwritten notes are still the norm in many clinics, despite the preponderance of legibility and accessibility problems, and increased likelihood of preventable medical errors. Traditional doctor practice of relying on memory and personal experience will be inadequate for the emerging industry. With the complexities of the healthcare system, early IT efforts perhaps spent too much time on the design and implementation stages without considering the reaction of end users. Having effective electronic medical records requires the direct participation of healthcare providers in their creation, maintenance and interpretation. Successful HIT integration blends technology systems into existing healthcare processes to gain greater efficiency, reduce errors and long-term costs, and improve patient service.

Managing the medical data of millions of patients may be a monumental task but by electronically storing and accessing information, patient histories will be more transferrable and doctors will be equipped with the most relevant knowledge prior to treatment. Patients also have far more medical knowledge now, thanks to the internet, and may arrive to consultations with print-outs of symptom research and potential treatment options. The rise of patient power is transforming traditional roles, positioning patients as the final authority in choosing among diagnostic and treatment alternatives, with the doctor acting in a “tech support” role to explain and interpret medical concepts. Doctors have to deal increasingly with patients that think they know more than them.

A new care delivery model called connected healthcare uses technology-enabled solutions such as sensor-monitoring devices, data storage and communication channels to expand medical access beyond clinics, empowering individuals to self-manage medical needs with less dependence on curative care. It is presently most applicable to chronic diseases, dependent or elderly care but the concept has the potential to include the entire population to interactively manage health rather than monitoring illness. While still in the early stages of adoption, connected healthcare should improve communication between patient and medical practitioner, enhancing the efficiency of routine treatments and enabling greater healthcare access to remote geographical regions.

The redistribution of access to knowledge in medical systems will translate to new opportunities for those who have supplemented their healthcare courses with IT training. Likewise, as the healthcare boom shows no signs of slowing down and government initiatives aim to transfer health information to a sophisticated database matrix, graduates of IT schools would do well to consider specializing in healthcare.

Visit Academy of Learning College for more information on healthcare, IT and accounting courses.