With the modern technology we have at our fingertips, it’s been a fairly natural transition from paper to electronic health records (EHRs) and from in-person checkups to monitoring vitals with smartphone applications. But with this transition, the demand for health care data experts and related STEM careers is soaring, especially for big data analysts, who organize and analyze the large datasets being created by the minute.
A STEM education’s holistic, hands-on approach is key to the development of the next generation of health data experts. A focus on STEM prepares students to take the health technology revolution to the next level and create positive change in health care systems across the world.
To successfully prepare this next generation, universities will need to focus on several key items in their education curriculum:
Educate students on the government’s current health care system
The traditional jam-packed curriculum for health informatics or any health data-related degree often doesn’t place enough emphasis on how the national health care system actually works. While they may provide a general overview, a thorough understanding of the national health care system’s functions is vital to successfully improve health care processes and make a positive change in the health care industry.
Without this knowledge, students won’t have the ability to identify gaps in the system and brainstorm solutions to overcome them. This means these students will work toward an unknown goal, delaying and inhibiting positive improvements. To combat this, universities need to create courses with a heavier focus on the national health care system’s policies and trends, through both classes and real-world exposure.
Fostering innovation is key to continued advancement within the health care industry. A STEM university’s focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics keeps students current on the latest technology being used throughout the industry. As workplaces change due to updated software and equipment, STEM knowledge puts students ahead of the curve.
Additionally, a STEM curriculum focused on creating positive change allows students to be open-minded and develop their own unique solutions. Encouraging students to think outside-of-the-box is how progress in the quality of health care can be made.
It’s also important to keep in mind that innovation is a team effort. Consider Ford, for example; four Ford employees worked together to pioneer the moving assembly line and completely revolutionize the manufacturing industry. In a similar manner, STEM students—and eventually STEM employees—who collaborate on ideas and projects constantly push each other to find better, smarter, faster health care solutions.
Provide hands-on experience
Simply put, the more hands-on experience a student receives during their time at school, the better prepared they will be to handle real-life events. It’s critical to offer students real-world experience to ensure they can make smart, strategic and quick decisions once they enter the workforce. This is especially true for the health care industry, where time to find solutions is often limited.
Increasing connectivity and the exponential growth in data volume is still a new concept in the health care field. That’s why it’s essential to introduce students to as many health data tools, software and modern technology as early as possible. Early exposure keeps students ahead of industry trends and helps them fine-tune their skills so they are quicker to identify solutions by the time they graduate.
Health care data is becoming increasingly easier to access, and it’s opening up a world of opportunity for the health care industry. Through a combination of education, innovation and hands-on experience, the next generation of health care data experts will be better prepared to lead the industry with safer, faster and more economical solutions.
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- Preparing the next generation of health care data experts - December 21, 2016