I recently participated in an inaugural “tweet chat” focusing on trends in the Health IT industry, hosted in part by the Health Information Systems Society (HIMSS). The moderators included industry experts and professionals in the field of marketing research, professional development, a University Dean, and a highly respected doctor. Topics covered items such as the multiple healthcare technologies on the horizon, IT trends and issues needed to be tackled by future generations, and a bevy of questions pertaining to the new and ever-changing health IT employment landscape. For someone like myself who has grown up in this whole social media boom, I was very curious to see just how such a “twitter chat” forum could be effective.
For those of you who have not yet decided to take the plunge into the tetrapod vertebrate world of twitter, (great bird knowledge dropped right there) there is something called a hashtag(#). Hashtags were originally created as a marketing tool to help companies keep track of what was being said about them or their product(s). They have evolved and now people use hashtags for just about anything. Hashtags can be serious, to help people search for your tweets discussing a specific topic (like #Olympics2012 or #DarkKnightRises) or funny (like #ThePhiladelphiaEaglesaregood). Not every tweet needs hashtags. Basically, they’re a way to follow the conversation about a specific subject; in this case, by using #HITedu, you were granted a ticket to join the event. The fury of tweeted questions in the forum, simultaneously answered by dozens of students and tweeters at times made it difficult to get a handle on what exactly was going on. Although beneficial in the amount of information that was generated from multiple perspectives, I found it at times frustrating in keeping everyone on track.
The chat covered emerging trends in the industry such as Optical Imaging, Neuroscience, Data security, and the obvious mobile technology were among the topics discussed. Several Health IT employment opportunities were mentioned as well, such as privacy and compliance officers. These officers focus on communication, policies, procedures, and training of a health care organization's entire workforce. Another position that was mention was clinical documentation coordinators, who will work with inpatient and outpatient coding issues and have a routine presence where patient care is being delivered–on the patient floors and wherever educational opportunities can be incorporated in a resourceful manner. An emerging Health IT field is medical informatics, which seeks to find improvements in the applications supporting clinical practice, natural language text processing, and other aspects in the development of computer-based patient records. Data quality managers who will explore the requirements of standardized data elements and work with varied databases within a health care organization are also needed. Today's modern hospital has more data than ever before, but most health care providers are unable to sort through these massive data sets with any regularity.
One of the most interesting discussion areas of the chat was based on careers in Health IT. Up until the past decade, there was never really a clear cut definition of this career path You never heard of someone focusing their University studies on Health IT courses or getting a specialized degree because, with the term being so broad, it never exclusively existed. One of the questions that took over a lot of the chat was, “how exactly do you get into this exciting field?” The two primary ways discussed were from the clinical side, (a clinician who moves into a health IT role) and from the IT side (an IT professional, without healthcare experience, who makes the transition into a healthcare IT role.) The easier of the two paths is the clinician’s because of the fact that clinical knowledge is very valuable in the Health IT field. Clinicians who transfer into Health IT usually come from a background as a physician, or from a laboratory career. Finally, we were left with a helpful amount of information from Dr. Joseph Kim who was one of the main moderators. Kim talked about barriers and opportunities to EHR (electronic health record) adoption, which will be an even larger source of data employment opportunities.
All in all I enjoyed this twitter chat. It was a beneficial experience being around a bevy of health care professionals in the twitter environment and I’m definitely looking forward to participating in more of these events in the future! Oh, and don’t forget to follow Segue Technologies on Twitter too! @Seguetech