It is no secret that the healthcare industry has been slower on the uptake when it comes to innovative technology. However, now that it’s been fully embraced, the career opportunities for coders in healthcare are endless. As the industry increases its focus on disease prevention and overall health and wellness initiatives, technological needs — like analyzing big data, developing interoperable platforms, perfecting data analysis, and creating new forms of consumer engagement — are paramount.
Before we dive into a few coding career opportunities in healthcare that might be right for you, let’s take a quick look at the past and the future of innovation and tech in healthcare, as well as shed light how coding has come to play such an important part of the industry.
Just a few decades ago, doctors were charting on paper, shuffling through hundreds of file folders each week, and answering calls after hearing alerts on their pagers. In more recent years, the industry has embraced technologies such as the electronic health record, innovations in radiology, and new ways to notify nurses and doctors of critical patient care needs, such as smartphones and advanced call systems. These advancements have provided improved care, better disease control, and more accessible treatments for millions of patients.
Where does the healthcare industry plan to go in the future?
Innovation advancements in the field are innumerable. Interoperability is a buzzword in every facet of healthcare; it’s no longer acceptable to have data about a patient held hostage in one proprietary system. Lawmakers and experts are calling for true interoperability so that patients have more access and control over their health data and can share it with providers and specialists around the globe with ease.
Further, artificial intelligence is advancing at breakneck speeds. AI is interpreting cancer data and improving the quality and personalization of medicine through data-driven products. Healthcare professionals are working on ways to use artificial intelligence to interface brains to computers in an effort to restore functioning to people with neurological injuries, create radiology tools that are accurate and detailed enough to replace the need for tissue samples, turn electronic health records into reliable risk predictors, and even employ selfies as a diagnostic tool.
These are only a few of the ways technology is taking over the healthcare industry and plans to expand in the future. Of course, for technology to keep up with the demand and pace of this growth, coders are needed. The software needed to support these technological developments has created a dire need for coders in the field of healthcare, and this demand is growing rapidly.
If you’re looking to apply your coding skills to a career in the healthcare industry, here are a few positions that might be right for you.
2) Consider Cybersecurity
If you dreamed of being a hero when you were little, this might be precisely where you fit in. The number of hospitals, medical centers, and other health facilities to digitize their new and archived records has skyrocketed over the past decade. As such, a veritable smorgasbord of sensitive information is now being stored online. If a hospital or healthcare facility leaves one small hole in their security system, they are vulnerable to hackers looking for patient data and protected health information. Cybercriminals can use this information to alter patient records, falsify prescriptions, and hack treatment plans.
According to a report published in the July issue of the HIPAA Journal, a record-breaking 50 health care data breaches involving more than 500 records each have been reported so far this year. More than 35 million individuals have had their health care records “compromised, exposed, or impermissibly disclosed” in 2019 — more than the previous three years combined. It’s no wonder careers in cybersecurity are on the rise.
Many experts used to think that maintaining HIPAA compliance was enough. However, as technology continues to advance, we must look ahead to workforce and workstation security, access and integrity controls, and security awareness and training if we plan to stay ahead of the hackers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for information security analysts is high, and the growth rate of the career is projected at 32 percent from 2018 to 2028 — much faster than the average for all other occupations. Entry-level education requires a bachelor’s degree, but you’ll be looking at a median pay of $98,350 per year.
As a career, you could find yourself working on revolutionary platforms, developing new security features, or creating risk adjustment software. Unfortunately, there are no job titles for “cybersecurity hero.” However, doing a quick search for “healthcare cybersecurity” can help you find jobs as a technology specialist, threat analyst, or security officer.
2) Analyze Big Data
Healthcare is a data-rich industry, and the possibilities of data analysis are endless. As the idea of health continues to shift into prevention and population health, the need for extracting data that is usable and meaningful continues to grow.
Big data in healthcare can provide real-time tracking of disease activity that can impact public health issues like the flu and other epidemics. Focusing on this data gives doctors and government officials the ability to make informed decisions about healthcare.
Working in big data sets will give you the chance to overcome business and healthcare industry challenges. You may be analyzing applied statistics and data analytics to answer questions in the life sciences industry, for example. You’ll need to possess a deep understanding of data gathering, storage, and sharing. You’ll also have to be able to accurately interpret datasets as they relate to your organization’s needs and goals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, puts the rate of growth for jobs in data analysis at 26 percent from 2018 to 2028 — again, much faster than the average for other careers. The standard educational requirement for entry-level positions in data analysis is a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers may single out applicants with a master’s degree. Median pay is $83,390 per year.
3) Develop App-Based Products
Smartphones and apps are the future of personal health. As technology marches forward, the need for mHealth (mobile health) apps is only going to increase. These mobile applications are most often used for treatment support, tracking progress, assisting in clinical trials, and informing both patients and healthcare professionals about preventive healthcare procedures.
If you have mobile development skills, you could be in high demand in the healthcare sector. You can build apps for others with a novel idea, work with large corporations attempting to compete with some of the most popular apps, or even create and sell an app on your own. Knowing how to build iOS and Android applications will keep you in demand. If apps aren’t your gig but developing products intrigues you, consider other mobile techs such as wearables, beacon technology, and the use of virtual reality in medicine.
To get started in app-based products, look for jobs with startups who have come up with innovative ideas. You could be helping to solve some of the most significant problems in healthcare and improve the lives of patients. You may also want to explore app-based learning for healthcare professionals too.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the employment of software developers is slated to grow 21 percent from 2018 to 2028. The entry-level education requirement is a bachelor’s degree, and median pay is a whopping $105,590 per year.
4) Break into Machine Learning
Could machine learning help improve the health of the nation? It’s likely. In healthcare, machine learning is increasing the efficacy of treatment options. It can also help diagnose conditions that were once considered hard to diagnose. Machine learning can even assist in drug discovery, the development of smart health records, and predict outbreaks of epidemics.
Careers in healthcare machine learning could allow you to design and build infrastructure that supports the needs of machine learning engineers. You’ll be working with vast quantities of information, performing complex modeling on dynamic data sets, and designing self-running software to automate predictive models. You’ll also get the opportunity to work with cross-functional teams on various projects.
Regardless of where you end up, you’ll be able to leverage your experience to drive best practices in machine learning and create a robust career in this industry.
According to Indeed, a machine learning engineer is the career of 2019, showing a growth rate of 344 percent from 2015 to 2018. Though employers will likely require you to have a master’s or doctoral degree in a relevant field of study, you’ll be looking at an average base salary of $146,000 per year.
Finding the Job for You
Do you want to use your coding powers to help others?
If so, the healthcare industry might be right for you.
Consider taking your top in-demand tech skills to an exciting career in machine learning, cybersecurity, or big data in medicine. Not only could you land the job of your dreams, but your work may also just end up positively affecting the health and safety of countless lives.