Last summer, I worked for a healthcare company called Healthfirst as an IT network Intern (think of IST 233, a networking class in the School of Information Studies, but in the real world). Yes, this was a nine-to-five job in the Financial District area of New York City where I gained insight of integrating technology into healthcare.
I worked on a data science and analytics project with three other interns using data to predict membership re-enrollment to the Healthfirst plans. I learned how to use data to create Amazon Alexa skills which can be tested for use on a device like the Echo. There’s always something exciting while working in healthcare because it has become such an innovational industry. Here are some of the things I learned about during my internship.
Devices: Revolutionizing Healthcare IT
Fitbit, Amazon Echo, and virtual reality are conquering the healthcare world at a rapid pace, and are giving more patients access to higher quality care.
IoT devices and applications provide data, which supports accurate information between a patient and their healthcare provider or doctor. Hospitals are also storing their patient data on electronic records so that their providers and pharmacists have access to their history of health-related information. From data storage to blockchain security, IT is giving healthcare a makeover.
Healthcare and Wearable Technology
Customers are getting what they want: a device they can wear that can monitor their health. IoT can help improve patient engagement because it allows patients to interact with their providers and nurses more frequently.
Wearable technology on its own allows physicians to manage their patient’s health, and if possible, in real-time. One example is the Fitbit Aria. The Fitbit Aria is a scale that tracks your weight and body fat percentage and stores this data on a cloud-based account over your personal Wi-Fi at home. Other devices use sensors to measure body temperature, blood pressure, and sleep patterns.
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Healthcare and Voice-Activated Technology
The IT world is trying to figure out what hospitals need. Companies are developing Amazon Alexa skills to create at-home nurses for their patients using the Echo. Using these skills, nurses would be able to monitor several patients at once if they have any issues.
Big tech companies like Microsoft and small startups are working on creating machine learning algorithms. The data is used to create helpful tools in healthcare. Sophia Genetics, a Swiss big-data company, created an artificial intelligence that analyzes DNA to diagnose illnesses using a smartphone app.
The Challenges of Healthcare IT: Hacking and HIPAA
IoT always has its obstacles. Hospitals now will have more responsibility to store all this data with while worrying about security and violations. We really have to consider HIPAA when utilizing health data. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that basically protected data for patients, aka PHI (protected health information). It was created when security breaches from cyber attacker became more common in healthcare.
IT Careers in Healthcare
A career in IT for a healthcare company is becoming more prestigious. While working on the infrastructure of Healthfirst’s telecommunication network (basically the backbone), I was able to connect with mentors throughout the business who gave me insight on IoT and data for hospitals. Several career options I learned about include clinical informatics, interface developers, and data scientists.
IoT: Internet of Things