In healthcare, the third biggest killer after cancer and cardiovascular disease is medical mistakes. Since computers are involved in every aspect of patient care, improving computers will arguably help make healthcare safer more than any other intervention.
In addition, computer technology is improving healthcare, surgery, and diagnoses through wearables, health monitors, robotics, and image processing.
It’s also creating a wealth of new jobs.
Overall healthcare occupations are projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs. We asked a panel of healthcare technology experts to weigh in on what job-seekers can expect between now and then.
Here’s what they had to say.
Oliver Amft: I believe there will be two key areas: (1) Novel methods for system design and analysis building/expanding into an area of computational manufacturing, and (2) Data mining algorithms that dynamically personalize or adapt according to acquired context information. My group and I are working on both areas as they provide synergies for wearable and implantable medical technology. Our vision is to develop methodologies that optimize systems—from materials to software—fitting personal health needs: to prevent the worsening of disease, recovery, or maintenance of health.
Amft is the founding director of the Chair of eHealth and mHealth at the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), where, since 2017, he has been full professor. He coordinated European research consortia such as GreenerBuildings and iCareNet and is a principal investigator for several other European and national projects.
He has co-authored more than 150 refereed archival research publications in the fields of context recognition, biomedical sensor technology, wearable computing, digital health, and embedded systems. Amft authored “How Wearable Computing Is Shaping Digital Health.”
Phillip A. Laplante: It’s no secret that healthcare careers often require certifications and licenses, and those who earn them will command the higher salaries and have the best career potential. Every healthcare career will require computer and technical proficiency, a trend that will only increase in the future.
Laplante is professor of software engineering and co-director of the Software Engineering Group at Pennsylvania State University. His research interests include real-time and embedded systems, image processing, and artificial intelligence. He co-authored the article “The Internet of Things in Healthcare: Potential Applications and Challenges.”
Harold Thimbleby: There are two important considerations. One, consumer-led pressures will slowly cause healthcare to change. Whether we are patients, caregivers, or clinicians, all of us are driven to get the latest tech, and much of it is already way ahead of what healthcare provides. The widening gap between what healthcare does and what we expect it to do is putting pressure on everyone. Secondly, greater awareness of safety will drive improved quality. For example, cybersecurity attacks succeed because healthcare software engineering is inadequate, and software safety problems kill many people. One day we will recognize that the low quality of healthcare software is unethical and unacceptable. We will adopt quality software engineering standards, perhaps adopting aviation standards like DO-178C.
I like to say that aviation has standards like DO-178C because they know lives depend on getting software reliable. In healthcare, it is baffling—if not outrageous—why there are no comparable standards, let alone a plan to transition to better software engineering standards over the next few years.
Thimbleby is an international computer scientist who has published over 600 peer-reviewed papers and been invited to speak in over 30 countries. He is an ACM Distinguished Speaker. He has found ways to radically improve the safety of many medical devices, such as halving error rates.
About Lori Cameron
Lori Cameron is Senior Writer for IEEE Computer Society publications and digital media platforms with over 20 years extensive technical writing experience. She is a part-time English professor and winner of two 2018 LA Press Club Awards. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on LinkedIn.