A recent CNBC article has highlighted the tremendous growth of the health informatics industry. Health Information Technology is doing brisk business around the world. The adoption of electronic health records (EHR), the use of mobile medical apps, and new patient portals has created a $100 billion a year industry worldwide.
Standardizing patient health information has long been a holy grail of health care professionals, and as technology expands and improves, they’re getting close to their goal. Evidence of this is seen in the widespread use of AI programs like IBM’s Watson by major hospitals and universities, including Memorial Sloan Kettering and Harvard, and even in consumer-facing mobile tech like Fitbit.
Today patient data is easier than ever to track, organize and process. From simple diagnosis via a mobile app to tracking epidemic diseases, health IT provides important solutions for patients and professionals. EHRs are the most pervasive use of informatics where standard records become multi-dimensional views of a patient or aggregated for a population overview.
But with this new zenith of informatics comes problems for the healthcare industry itself, especially staffing informatic positions. Where emphasis was once placed on hiring the best and brightest doctors and nurses — now, IT managers, analysts, developers and medical information officers are poached from other medical and non-medical professions, and colleges have health IT programs.
Constant adaption to new technology, however, is a leading cause of burnout in the industry. Burnout aside: in 2017, up to 50,000 informatics jobs are predicted to be added in the U.S. alone. Since the 2009 HITECH Act, which promotes “the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology,” 96% of all hospitals now use EHRs. Government funding and general interest have lead the U.S. to spend more than $45 billion on informatics alone according to CNBC.