Industry Focus: Hospital Communication
The growth and use of technology-based solutions in various settings has fundamentally shifted the expectations of many hospital visitors and patients. The tech-savvy consumers of today demand flexibility and ease, so institutions that adopt digital solutions can expect to increase their overall performance while decreasing costs. Digitization has thus created a “fourth space” in healthcare, propelling traditional systems further towards patient empowerment, preventive focus, and wellness-centered individualized quality care delivery.
Digital health innovators and vendors are certainly benefitting, as are patients and healthcare providers, but another group is set to enjoy the rise in digital technologies is that of the many graduates and professionals who have increased opportunities to find suitable jobs. This article is geared towards such individuals, who can find information on the types of positions available and the ways to acquire them. Before that, however, it focuses on the effects that digital health has had particularly on one facet of healthcare—hospital communications:
What has Digital Health Achieved in Hospital Communications?
Communication between physicians, specialists, patients, caregivers, and other hospital staff without using digital aides is a time-consuming affair. However, when the need for physical interaction is replaced by virtual tools and platforms, communication can immediately become a lot faster and more effective. Findings by physicians have shown that using solutions such as mHealth apps significantly save time, which over time lead to big returns on investments. Even beyond money, saved time can be used to redirect focus to patients so that more in-depth or extensive care can be provided, or it can be used to reinvigorate itself so that higher-quality care may be delivered. Especially in large facilities, such solutions can have immense impact, as they add layers of convenience and speed to the quotidian communication processes. Recognizing this, many startups have emerged to create digital solutions specifically to enhance intra-hospital communications. They have been thriving too, with investments in HIT jumping 810% from 2010 to 2016 according to reports by Novahill Partners. Some examples of companies that have successfully done so are:
- Voalte. Offers smartphone alternatives that simplify caregiver communication and enable care teams inside and outside the hospital to access and exchange information securely. For example, one application connects caregivers inside the hospital via VoIP calling, alarm and alert notification, and secure text messaging.
- DrFirst. Provides real-time access to patient data, improves communication and collaboration at the point of care and across the patient’s circle of caregivers. Their solution also meets all of HIPAA’s security standards, guarding patients, caregivers and medical facilities against unintended disclosure of protected health information.
- BeckonCall. An automated, cloud-based scheduling and messaging service for physicians and hospitals to connect seamlessly and efficiently, while reducing costs. Users can connect across web browsers, mobile phones, tablets and traditional landlines. Doctors can manage consults, admissions, orders, and after-hours patient calls all in one place.
- [m]pirik. Uses simple, intuitive technology to improve the healthcare experience for patients and caregivers. Patients receive messages before and after their procedures with health reminders and tips on their specific procedure, and designated family members/friends receive real-time updates via text message or email through every step.
- Cureatr. A mobile care coordination solution that helps accountable care organizations, hospitals and health systems, specialty care providers, and physician group practices leverage real-time Care Transition Notifications with secure messaging and clinical workflow tools. Doctors can use the organizational directory to access a complete list of professionals along with their specialty, set their own availability status and view others’, and receive urgent alerts for critical updates.
- TigerText. Helps physicians, nurses, and other staff communicate and collaborate more effectively, accelerating productivity, reducing costs, and improving patient outcomes. Provides an integration-friendly platform and intelligent workflow mapping for optimal team collaboration.
- PatientSafe Solutions. Delivers real-time mobile clinical solutions to hospitals to improve patient safety, quality, and satisfaction while decreasing costs. Offers mobile devices that make it possible for frontline clinicians to access data at the point of care or anywhere throughout the hospital so that they can communicate securely, share relevant patient and clinical data, and collaborate efficiently.
How Has Digital Health Shaped the Job Market?
With increasing investment in digital health, and a slew of companies arriving to offer digital solutions to healthcare problems, numerous job categories have opened. With the global market forecasted to grow by nearly 16 percent through 2022, it can be expected that the growth in jobs will closely follow. General computer and information technology occupations are projected to grow by 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, a portion of which can be linked to the health industry. Such expectations are mirrored by the opinions of experts in the field, such as Andrew Thompson, the CEO of Proteus Digital Health who reasons that technology in fields such as health will create many more jobs than it destroys. The evident success of digital health companies—such as of Babylon Health, Antidote, LumiraDx and more in the UK— further point to a promising future for those in search of a job in this sector. Some examples of possible job roles are:
Develop tools for analytics, and build flexible and scalable frameworks. Requires applied modeling and data visualization skills.
Design and maintain data pipelines, work with other data specialists, derive insights from data analysis. Requires collaborative skills to work in teams and analytical and programming skills to understand data.
Design and implement high quality and performance client software, work in a fast-paced development environment, review designs and tests to determine if software will perform according to requirements and specifications, participate in code reviews and use case collaborations. Requires knowledge of standard concepts, practices, and procedures; strong analytical and problem-solving skills, experience with application development.
Evaluate and develop systems to minimize digital security risks, maintain and audit IT Infrastructure security, respond to security incidents. Requires deep understanding of information security principles, ability to detect application vulnerabilities, and relevant systems and network security experience.
Quality Assurance Engineer
Analyze requirements and technical impact of new features/enhancements, follow up on bugs and perform necessary regression testing, create test cases, test data for new features and execute them. Requires experience in testing and debugging web applications or software.
Design and build infrastructure to help the business. Work with high availability OS and application deployment, IP stack management, IP routing, multi-vendor interoperability, infrastructure and link monitoring, and change control based management. Requires clear working knowledge of cloud infrastructure, traditional data centers, and infrastructure resiliency; proficiency with operating systems and network tuning/troubleshooting.
Demonstrate appropriate troubleshooting; analyze and improve efficiency, reliability and scalability of development workflows and systems; supervise technical issues. Requires strong understanding of computer systems and ability to respond quickly and effectively to issues, experience working with Cloud networks, working knowledge of configuration management tools, fluency object-oriented programming languages and scripting languages.
Develop new visual components and interaction patterns at a systems level, build prototypes to communicate product vision, create innovative and creative design solutions based on insights from other teams. Requires an eye for detail, ability to design and document complex components, a strong understanding of grid systems and design elements, confidence in user testing tools.
Design software for wearable, desktop, and mobile products; manage the application of standard design patterns and typography across multiple interfaces; collaborate on design explorations and participate in design critiques. Requires experience in developing and applying visual design in a software product as well as typography and asset production.
Design and conduct user research to evaluate products, communicate research findings to shape designs and product strategies, turn research insights into actionable plans. Requires strong understanding of research methods, ability to plan and conduct research in different formats, ability to inform business and product decisions with the relevant insights.
Help businesses implement technology solutions in cost-effective way; gather intelligence about needs and future growth; evaluate and recommend new opportunities for enhancing software, hardware, or IT processes; design and execute testing procedures to extract data from test runs. Requires high detail-orientation and experience with information technology, ability to leverage data to create solutions.
Analyze and model statistical data to determine potential risks; bring innovative solutions and provide expertise to stakeholders; create scalable, configurable, and verifiable data pipelines for health analytics.
How to Obtain a Digital Health Job
Industry leaders are highly optimistic about employment possibilities; for instance, Inhealthcare CEO Bryn Sage offered his view that tens of thousands of jobs could be created in Britain in life sciences and digital healthcare if technologies continue to be embraced by stakeholders. A wide variety of jobs are likely to be created, and as such, those with qualifications in many different areas could seek and attain employment. However, degrees in related fields of study, combined with previous experience dealing with the types of responsibilities expected, will usually qualify individuals for the job they want. The following is a list of some courses that may be attractive to employers in this industry, and a few of the many universities that offer them:
- Computer Science. University of Cambridge, University of Warwick, King’s College London, etc.
- Digital Health. University of Strathclyde Glasgow, University of Cumbria, Glasgow Caledonian University, etc.
- Digital Innovation. University of London, London School of Economics, Southampton University, University of Warwick, etc.
- Cyber security. Lancaster University, Royal Holloway, University of York, etc.
- Networks and Computer Systems Security. University of Greenwich, University of South Wales, University of Wolverhampton, etc.
- Statistics. University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of Canterbury, etc.
- Econometrics. University of East Anglia, Queen Mary University of London, University of Exeter, etc.
- Health Informatics. University of Leeds, University of West London, Kingston University, etc.
- Software Engineering. University of Glasgow, Staffordshire University, York St John University, etc.
- UX Design. University of York, University of Dundee, University of Portsmouth, etc.
- Business Analytics. Imperial College London, Nottingham University Business School, University of Surrey, etc.
- Data Science. Cardiff University, Birmingham City University, Birbeck University of London, University of Derby, etc.
For graduates and other qualified individuals, the present is an opportune time to launch a career in the digital healthcare market. For students and future graduates, the scope for such degrees and skills do not appear to be dwindling any time soon. Looking up careers on your preferred companies’ websites will give you an idea of what positions are available, and will also broaden your insights into company expectations in terms of roles and requirements.