IT is becoming increasingly important to the future of healthcare, but along with the benefits and job opportunities comes concerns about security.
Of all the industries being shaped by technology, healthcare is one of the most important. As populations get older and become exposed to a shifting selection of illnesses, it's essential that the sector makes use of the resources at its disposal to provide the best services and care to patients possible. Yet as digital technology becomes increasingly integrated into the medical sector, providing more opportunities for IT contract roles and other jobs, how will we deal with challenges such as security in the midst of this development?
IT innovation a staple for the future of healthcare
Just as illness and environmental factors constantly change, so too must healthcare to combat them. Innovation is a vital step for creating a medical industry that will withstand and respond to future conditions. According to a report from the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), the Australian medical industry is not yet incorporating innovation as well as it could. To truly thrive in the modern health landscape, the sector must continue to embrace IT and use it to transform the way it delivers care.
IBM says that already the healthcare industry is investing significant funds into technology, accessing new solutions for a variety of health conditions. This can be a big financial burden for health organisations, but considering the wider cost of poor treatment on a country, it's vital to continue pursuing IT advancement across the medical sector.
IT gaining ground in the health sector
In light of this, a recent poll from online magazine Healthcare IT News highlights some of the biggest IT trends healthcare executives expect to see in 2017, which will shape the job opportunities available in IT. One of the primary focuses is analytics, which 76 per cent of respondents say helps to improve healthcare quality and 67 per cent claim improves the delivery of these services. More widely, analytics and technology such as telehealth give medical professionals better insight into the conditions of the population, as well as the wellness of individual patients themselves.
Research and consulting firm Accenture's Health Practice Managing Director Brian Kalis explains that technology is playing an increasingly big role in the future of the medical sector.
"What stands out here is the increasing importance of telehealth as a different form of access as well as a different form of connecting with consumers," he told Healthcare IT News "Seeing telehealth with increased importance can help address labour priority challenges in healthcare."
"This foreshadows what we might see accelerate in 2017 - the focus on precision medicine and the initial investments in using precision medicine to improve care," he said. "This is an early stage trend. As well as the survey respondents' fairly high prioritisation of smart medical devices; we've heard from a number of health systems looking at new strategies to use patient-generated health data to improve care."
Prevailing concerns over security
However, along with all the advantages of health IT comes some risks, specifically cybersecurity threats as patient information becomes increasingly digitised. In fact, security was the biggest concern for 2017 in the Healthcare IT News survey, with 52 per cent of respondents saying they are planing to upgrade this technology in the coming year.
"From the standpoint of security being number one, it certainly is one of the most critical things in healthcare today," Geisinger Health System's Associate Chief Information Officer explained to Healthcare IT News "We are in an age where technology has extended so far into the realm of healthcare that it has become one of the most critical things, so the heightened need for security follows."
Consequently, it's likely that the healthcare sector will provide significant IT career opportunities in the coming year, particularly for professionals specialising in cybersecurity, app development and analytics.
For IT opportunities in the healthcare sector, check out our jobs board.