IT Careers in Healthcare & Preventative Health Technology
So you have a love for computers — maybe it’s hardware, creating architecture for peripherals, web development, or even data analytics. But what if you not only rue the idea of moving to a big tech hub with absurd costs of living, but Silicon Valley bro culture makes your eyes roll straight out of your head?
With the ever increasing number of lawsuits and journalistic exposés highlighting toxic cultures, sexual harassment, and general unprofessional behaviour of male-dominated tech companies, it’s no surprise that many women are thinking twice before getting into the tech industry. But if tech is your passion, what else can you do? It’s a catch-22. The environment keeps you away from the career, but it won’t change unless people like you gain greater representation in it.
You don’t have to abandon tech, but neither do you have to work for culturally toxic startup. Many other industries out there are embracing tech.They often need specialized tools to perform specialized tasks, and many companies end up deciding that in-house teams are better equipped to fill their needs. Also, some tech companies startup to fill a specific niche , specializing in a particular industry. Moreover, there are a range of companies geared toward women — from tech-focused, to tech-adjacent, to unrelated to the industry but in need of tech-savvy teams — in which to begin a career.
One major example of this diversity in company type and purpose comes from the healthcare industry. Healthcare needs one of the most diverse professional skill sets in order to be able to effectively cater to a wide variety of gender identities and cultures. Imaging technology was designed by physicists; nurses and doctors need soft people skills as well as medical proficiency; and administrators need business skills as well as a grounding in the humanities for ethical practices. The medical field also, increasingly, relies on data, computer technology, and mobile devices.
Data & Data Management: A Big Deal in Healthcare
Healthcare is a field that absolutely drives innovation in how we accrue, store, transmit, and interpret data. As an industry, it was quick to latch on to big data as a tool. If you think about it, healthcare’s strong marriage to data makes a lot of sense. Diagnosis, treatment, recovery, every aspect of a patient’s journey with a healthcare professional, no matter how minor the complaint, relies on one thing: information. Good information saves lives, and bad information — for example, about an allergy to a medication — kills.
People’s lifestyles and everyday choices affect medical outcomes. Their medical history can affect what kinds of treatments are safe. During an emergency, a patient or their family members may not be able to report all of the pertinent information about their conditions and current medications.
In short, healthcare professionals have always relied on data. Now, patients can self-report using bluetooth personal devices. Data can be shared between hospitals, governments, and law enforcement agencies. Data from radiology images, it turns out, can reveal more information the better we get at collecting and interpreting it. Now, data-related technology is having a major impact on healthcare outcomes. Big data is even being used to combat major public health crises, as the collection and interpretation of data has always been critical to the effectiveness of epidemiological studies.
Data, Information Systems, and Practical Applications Are In-Demand Skills
To give data a practical use, we have to understand how people interact with it: how they generate it, how they react to it, and how we can take that understanding and apply it to how we help people. For healthcare especially, data, while being an extremely technical subject, is all about people. If you’re someone who needs to know the impact of your work, who likes to see and improve the human experience, getting into the medical field will likely be a satisfying option.
Generally. Medical technology companies are less interested in the cutting-edge theory and heavy math that’s involved with a lot of computer science, and more the practical uses and interactions of information systems. It’s a subtle difference, but a consequential one, because it involves learning different code languages and applying different critical thinking skills to the work.
These skills can be applied to the development of systems that employees of healthcare companies interact with to manage patient data or that patients themselves use to self-report and make use of telemedicine. Companies that offer cloud services specifically to healthcare providers are one example. Other potential employers in the field are wearable and self-reporting device designers, who create anything from quality-of-life enhancers which focus on preventative health, to more specific devices like blood sugar testers, emergency alarm systems for the elderly and people with disabilities, or exercise trackers.
It’s Not All About Code
Software as a service companies need all sorts of professionals to keep the ship running. Every company needs marketing, HR, finance and sales departments, as well as their own business analytics in addition to the ones they provide clients with. There are plenty of careers in tech that don’t require an extensive knowledge of coding languages, and in healthcare there are a number of additional skills that are often needed. User interface design, signage, language, and marketing design are constant challenges for healthcare providers because they so often serve people with disabilities who are very old or have diminished capacities in some way. Accessibility is an important part of how healthcare providers function every day, and getting it right often requires careful design.
You don’t have to be a nurse to get into healthcare, and you don’t have to put up with childish behaviour to become a tech professional. Healthcare is just one industry which is growing and becoming adjacent to tech for its reliance on data, machine learning, and the integration possibilities that the IT sector brings. Explore your options, find an industry that you’re also passionate about, and see how it intersects with tech. While the boy’s club in Silicon Valley “invents” cutting edge technologies like buses and vending machines, we’ll be out there doing the work that matters.