Tech is everywhere, and the healthcare industry is no exception. Hospitals need data, security, digital marketing, and essential troubleshooting assistance like any other business. Behind each of these needs is a rewarding and (usually) quite lucrative job waiting to be filled.
Working in the healthcare tech industry isn’t always easy, but the opportunities are great for those who are up to the task. This article looks at several of the many booming careers in the healthcare tech industry.
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Table of Contents
A Changing Landscape
Tech in medicine has changed slowly over the years, held back, perhaps, ever so slightly by the preferences of the “old guard”— doctors, nurses, and administrators who don’t want or intend to learn an entirely new set of schools to perform the same tasks they’ve been completing successfully for decades.
And yet, despite traveling a path of some resistance, digital technology has arrived in medicine, and it’s here to stay.
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One of the most significant limitations in the healthcare industry’s acceptance of digital technology in the workplace is not necessarily the goodwill of those expected to adopt it but also the financial reality of what it means to introduce new tech into any workplace.
Even as healthcare employees become increasingly adapted to digital technology, there are roadblocks: Implementing a new analytics system, for example, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars—more for large hospital systems.
The same goes for AI, robotic surgical assistants, etc. These technologies exist, and some hospitals have them. By contrast, some hospitals also hardly have the resources to remain adequately staffed around the clock.
This is to say that the careers we will highlight in this article may be “booming” in certain places and still a distant dream in others.
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Do You Need Special Training for Tech Jobs in the Healthcare Industry?
It depends on the job. Many tech-related healthcare jobs will not require much healthcare knowledge. For example, the IT person for a hospital does not need to know anything about medicine.
However, there are specific contexts in which a sophisticated understanding of healthcare codes and practices is required. For example, if you are developing a healthcare-related app that deals with patient records or communications, you, as the developer, will be held to HIPAA standards.
This means your application will need several layers of security specifically designed to keep patient information safe.
Similarly, suppose you are working in analytics. In that case, you will need to understand your subject matter well enough to sort and interpret various threads of information from which you will eventually conclude.
Below, we will look at some careers that require much medical understanding and others that are more or less just like the tech jobs you would encounter at any other business.
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App or software developers in the healthcare industry experience a few different requirements than other employment sectors. As mentioned earlier, app developers making products used by patients are held to HIPAA standards.
HIPAA, signed into law in the 90s, is designed to protect patient information. For years, this was accomplished individually by doctors and nurses who understood the discretion they were required to maintain with their patience.
As the tech expands, computer programs are also held to HIPAA standards. To be HIPAA compliant, a software application must:
- Have user authentication: A mechanism on the app that requires patients to verify who they are. This can be as simple as a password but often requires other layers, including a face or finger scan.
- Limit access to the information: Only approved parties can access patient data. Usually, the patient and their physician. Each party is given unique credentials, making tracking and interpreting account activity easier.
- Automatic logouts: If patients lose their phone or computer, their records will remain safe.
Encrypted data: Protected information must be further fortified with encryption practices to prevent it from falling into the hands of bad actors.
Following HIPPA requirements to the letter is no small task, yet those who can do it are well rewarded with high compensation and a market highly receptive to their unique talents.
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Jobs in the Cloud
A recent report issued by Microsoft revealed that there are currently more than one million cloud-related jobs worldwide that need to be filled. Though problematic for the proliferation of the tech itself, this enormous level of demand is a valuable opportunity for those interested in and able to service the cloud.
It takes many different jobs to run and support a cloud.
- Cloud engineers: Cloud engineers provide the infrastructure necessary to meet an organization’s specific cloud-related needs. That need will most likely transmit important, HIPAA-protected files in this case.
- Cloud architects: Cloud architects are the big picture people. They design projects from beginning to end and work directly with the development teams to bring their vision to reality.
- Cloud consultant: Cloud consultants are a little like salespeople. They will evaluate a business, understand its needs, and then recommend cloud-based solutions that will help that business run more efficiently.
- Developer: Developers work directly in the coding trenches, doing the physical work that facilitates the architect’s vision.
These professionals make it easy for hospitals to share essential patient communications seamlessly across vast distances in the healthcare industry. Where once a physical copy of patient records would need to be located and somehow communicated to the hospital that needs it, this same task can be accomplished with a few clicks.
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Data scientists provide the architecture required to compile and interpret information. Usually, this begins with specific premises. For example, a data scientist may be tasked with compiling analytics on local Covid numbers.
To accomplish this, they will compile various information streams about infection rates. This could be diverse and include everything from the age of Covid sufferers, transmission levels, healthcare outcomes for the infected, etc.
They plug that data into an algorithm-powered database that can sort it and produce organized data sets that are easier to interpret.
Data analysts take information that has already been collected and sorted through databases and AI and then use that information to identify patterns and make conclusions. In the healthcare industry, these findings might apply to the hospital itself.
For example, a hospital may employ a data analyst to help increase its operational efficiency. In this context, the analyst might identify hospital branches with the highest need, allowing an administrator to reconfigure the division of labor accordingly.
You can also use analytics to evaluate healthcare outcomes and pinpoint the most prevalent conditions in the community being served.
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Informatic nurses combine a nurse’s responsibilities with those of a data analyst. They are trained to apply their medical knowledge in the most conducive to implementing analytics.
On a practical level, this means ensuring that the hospital they work for has the data they need to make informed conclusions regarding patient care and staff management.
During the height of the pandemic, informatics nurses were uniquely qualified to interpret local infection rates and help guide the hospital in what sort of support it would need in terms of staffing and ventilators.
While the worst of the pandemic is behind us, telematic nurses continue to help hospitals make the most of small staff, making it easier to understand where the highest needs are on a given day.
Of course, every modern business requires high-quality cyber security. Hospitals have a particularly acute need for good security practices owing to several factors:
As mentioned earlier, any digital technology involving patient records has to follow the rigorous regulations of HIPAA. This means having the proper cybersecurity infrastructure and staffing individuals who understand the nuanced requirements unique to healthcare.
They Are Big Targets
In the Spring of 2021, Ireland’s national healthcare network was held hostage by a group of digital terrorists named “Wizard Spider.” The terrorist organization used ransomware to freeze Ireland out of its healthcare network essentially.
The hackers demanded $20 million to relinquish control. Ireland declined. It took many weeks for them to free up their system from Wizard Spider’s control. During that time, services were disrupted, and hundreds of patients had their private information deliberately leaked online.
Healthcare systems are good targets for cybercriminals because the stakes are high. Not only can a well-coordinated attack provide the criminal with valuable information they might be able to sell or ransom, but it accomplishes the cyber terrorists’ greater goal of inspiring civil fear and distrust.
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Mistakes are Common and Easy
It’s always easy to make a cyber security mistake. When one employee signs into the wrong wifi network or opens an email, they shouldn’t have an entire system that becomes vulnerable. Healthcare networks are particularly vulnerable to human error for a couple of reasons.
For one thing, there are many employees supporting hospital operations. Each one is capable of making minor errors with significant ramifications. The other issue is that these employees have very high, demanding standards that must be met. The harder it is to follow best practices, the greater the odds that mistakes will be made.
Cyber security experts maintain the hospital’s security network and may even provide valuable training to staff. Large hospitals often have cyber security experts on staff, while smaller networks will work with freelance professionals.
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Where there is technology, there must be people there to troubleshoot it. IT responsibilities are more or less universal regardless of where you work. IT specialists working for hospitals will help other employees work through tech problems.
Often this will mean small but essential tasks. Helping a not-so-tech-savvy employee reconnect to the WIFI or update their computer. Frustrating work, perhaps, but essential, allowing the hospital to run smoothly.
While IT jobs don’t pay as well as most of the other careers on this list, they are always in high demand and can even be performed remotely, depending on the requirements of your employer.
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If you thought that hospitals more or less market themselves by, you know, saving lives, you were mistaken. Hospitals, particularly those located in cities, have competition, and they use marketing to distinguish themselves.
In the 21st century, this means utilizing digital marketing to reach the public. This could include managing asocial media accounts, creating digital content, or producing online content that educates and attracts the public’s attention.
The scope of a hospital’s digital marketing division will depend on the size of the system itself. An extensive, city-based hospital system with multiple locations may require an entire marketing division, while smaller rural hospitals may have one person at the helm.
Either way, marketers interested in healthcare have plenty of room to apply their skills.
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An Ever-Expanding Horizon
it’s essential to understand that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface with digital technology. Pick a tech sector, any tech sector, and you’re sure to find a growing demand for qualified professionals that will only ramp up in the next ten years or so.
Tech in the workplace, hospital or otherwise, is not a trend but an irreversible shift in how humans approach and complete tasks. As digital communications, analytics, and cloud-based technology mature and become more accessible, the careers that support them will grow in demand.
Now is a great time to pursue training that qualifies you for a tech industry job. The wages are competitive. The work is fulfilling. The demand for tech and healthcare executives is ever demanding.