Technology boon for broken health systems

A medical worker at the US Department of Veterans Affairs

Hackers covet health data due to its high value.

Photo credit: AFP

Digital technology is changing the face of health systems. It is turning around hemorrhaged healthcare systems for the better. It narrows the gap between doctors and their patients. It helps provide cheaper, faster, and quality care even for the most troublesome diseases.

Investing in digital technologies for healthcare has big returns on investment. They help reduce delays in providing care, reduce medical errors, and seal loopholes exploited by wayward workers.

To help patients' adherence to treatment guidelines, health organiations have developed apps to alert them when it's time to take their medicines.

Taking medicines as prescribed has many benefits, including preventing drug reactions and getting patients back on their feet faster. Good information drives good decisions in health care; information technologies aid informaticians in collecting cleaner data that produce critical information needed by clinicians.

Nowadays, people do not have to go to their banks to access their money. They can do it on their phones, thanks to digital tools. Likewise, technology is making health more transparent. Transparent in the sense that, with appropriate software applications, one can access their health records on their phone or computer — anytime and for life.

Patients are entitled to their health information. It's empowering to own your health information and share it with whomever you want. For example, you can show the new doctor your health history when you change doctors.

And let's face it; doctors are reputed for great things, chief among them is saving lives, but their handwriting is not one of those. Appropriate software at the point of care eliminates the scribbles from doctors' notes, reducing treatment mistakes.

But for these systems to operate optimally, they require a slew of experts armed with requisite technological knowhow. That's why many employers worldwide are not just looking for doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and pharmacists. They are searching for professionals with more than just a smattering knowledge of health informatics. They scout specialists who can collect, process, analyse, use, and store troves of patient information in computerised systems.

Some studies report that globally, health data doubles every 73 days. Jobs for health information technicians and specialists are projected to grow exponentially, in tandem with the changing face of health systems. Positions such as health information managers, health care data analysts, business analysts, and data scientists will continue to be in high demand locally, regionally, and abroad.

Health data clerks who traditionally work in tiny rooms marooned by bundles of fading forms are now morphing into more prestigious positions of health information technicians.

Hackers covet health data because of its high value. Unfortunately, the world suffers a shortage of finely tuned health information security analysts to guard health systems.

2022 is an election year — bend the ears of your candidates and nudge them to articulate how they will improve health care delivery using 21st century tools.

Mr Wambugu is an Informatician. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Samwambugu2


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