Education has experienced radical changes since the first appearance of the modern pencil in 1795. Today’s classroom’s are utilizing laptops, cell phones, tablets, and multiple social media platforms.
The new reality is that health care and technology now go hand-in-hand as well, so it’s imperative that health care education continue to keep pace with the new digital technologies that have immersed themselves into every facet of the health care world.
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A Perfect Example
Case in point: health informatics. The history of health informatics reaches back to the 1960’s as computers began to handle larger amounts of data. The health care industry started utilizing this tool as a way to manage information, collect data in one place, and streamline efforts.
Fast forward to current day, health informatics has progressed with giant strides. Simply put, health informatics is the science behind the crossing paths of healthcare, information technology, and business. It can be split further into categories including: clinical, clinical research, translational, and consumer or public health. For specific definitions of the categories, refer to this informative infographic supplied by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Benefits of Adaptation
The optimum intention of the informatics field is to improve the standard of health care, minimize costs, and increase both efficiency and productivity in all health care areas. That translates into potential extensive benefits for both clinicians and patients.
Clinicians who have adopted health informatics programs report both time and cost reductions. For instance, 75% of clinicians who are using electronic healthcare records receive lab results faster, making it possible to relay the news to their patients in a more time-sensitive way.
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Translation into the Classroom
Health care in general continues to evolve and intertwine technology into all aspects of the field. Thus, education in the classroom must also progress to ensure that students entering into the workforce graduate with the proper set of skills to perform competently in this new world.
The “classroom” itself has evolved, relying more than ever on the virtual world of online learning. With over 6.7 million students choosing some form of online education, online students are seeing distinct advantages including flexibility in their schedules, diversity of specializations, and ease of accessibility.
Online programs are designed with a wide range of tools to be employed both by teachers and students. Computers, tablets, the Internet and Skype, even cell phones are offering dynamic study tools. Does anyone still remember the days of hand writing on colorful index cards and turning them into flashcards for studying? Now there are apps for your phone offering tools to create your own flashcards for vocabulary or topics that need to be reviewed.
Even more specifically, classrooms are integrating new software where students can work directly on simulated electronic charting allowing for realistic charting experiences. It also allows instructors to create and customize scenarios and shadow students online.
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Both new and returning students need to be prepared for this new world with a robust background in computer fundamentals. Most Millennials have grown up in a world with technology, not understanding a world that does not include laptops and cell phones. They studied on computers throughout school and have a solid base of skills. However, there is still a large population of Baby Boomers and Generation X- ers that are being introduced or attempting to become comfortable with technology.
Many students in those latter categories are returning to college for a multitude of reasons. They may be looking to keep up with the field they are already in, wanting to expand their horizons in new technology and keep themselves relevant in their field. Others may have found themselves downsized or let go from a previous career. The healthcare industry is expected to grow by 25 percent through 2022. These statistics are inspiring many to change their careers and seek new opportunities in healthcare fields.
Students who feel challenged with today’s technologically-advanced world may do well to take additional strides to prepare themselves for returning to the classroom by taking pre-cursor classes in computers or software tools.
Whatever your reason, be it additional education or a change in career, formulate a strategy to face advancements in technology head-on.
Mykael Ray is a freelance writer, whose passions vary immensely, from health care to American history. The one passion he has that dwarfs the rest is his love for sharing the information that he learns on a constant basis. Life is one big lesson, so learn all you can.