Exploring the 2012 Top Ten Jobs and Tech Trends

CareerCast.com recently ranked 200 jobs from best to worst based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies. While Registered Nurse ranks as number 38 in the best jobs category (just ahead of Physician), Computer Systems Analyst was ranked within the top 10 best jobs. As defined in the report, this role “plans and develops computer systems for business and scientific institutions.” I would guess that many of you are working in a role that could be described as a hybrid of these two jobs – combining your clinical skills with your technical skills to advance clinical systems in your organization. In terms of hiring outlook, both of these jobs are ranked high on the list.  But in terms of work environment, income or stress, I will let you be the judge of your own situation. Yet it seems clear that compared to many jobs, we are among the fortunate to be gainfully employed and positively challenged in our clinical informatics careers.

Another recently published report is Healthcare Informatics’ Top Ten Tech Trends for 2012. The overall description of the trends as a time of “exhilaration and anxiety” is so apropos. Those two words certainly depict my typical work day. The constant push towards innovation and change can be very exciting, but the resultant demand to keep on top of things is intensely anxiety producing. Perhaps looking at the 2012 Top Ten Tech Trends will help us prepare for whatever is pounding at our door to be implemented next. 

2012 Top Ten Tech Trends

  • Performance Measurement

Process improvement methodologies are an important part of our tool kit, and it is good to see that this trend will continue. Our deep understanding of the care delivery process will help us leverage IT to enable positive change that leads to improved outcomes.

  • Population Health Management

Continuity of care and quality metrics are both important components of population health management. Being able to improve outcomes for populations will require the careful use of metrics that include clinical measures.  And being able to access real-time data will also allow us to predict the type of interventions necessary to improve the individual patient experience.

  • ACOs and Care Coordination Tools

Foundational elements which are necessary to building accountable care organizations (ACOs) include establishing ambulatory EHRs, health information exchange, a disease registry, as well as physician and patient engagement. These elements can then be used to analyze risk and employ preventative medicine. Analytics tools are used to mine clinical information to make informed, cost-effective decisions.

  • Care Management Transitions

System-wide solutions are necessary to provide summary information that is comprehensive yet relevant to caregivers. Data from multiple sources requires a foundation of interoperability, but it will enable a smooth hand off transition.

  • Decision Support

First generation clinical decision support systems have not lived up to expectations, leading to alert fatigue and less than optimal workflow. Second generation systems are available that can transform care delivery, but challenges include disillusionment with prior systems and lack of resources to enable the optimization potential.

  • Privacy and Security

There is gradual progress being made, but many organizations don’t have the resources or knowledge of how to address security controls. E-mail encryption, data loss prevention, and single-sign-on are technologies that will make security controls more amenable to users.

  • Private vs. Public HIEs

The need for infrastructure to support ACO development and care coordination is driving private health information exchange (HIE) growth. There is also concern that public HIEs won’t be able to find successful financial or business models.

  • Imaging

Diagnostic image sharing and storage is needed that can interact with an EMR. Enterprise-wide image solutions that provide a “patient-centric” view will offer a desirable strategy.

  • Mobile Health

Clinicians expect their organization to support their mobile devices, but many organizations lack policies that regulate their use or outline a mobile strategy. Organizations must decide which operating systems and devices they will support and what encryption or middleware they have to put on the devices.

  • Personalized Medicine

As discussed in my previous blog, this is the new frontier for the blending of IT, EHRs and genomics. According to Chris Chute, MD, “Next generation EHRs will require a facility to access genomic data about patients; access to a nationwide or international database that assigns genomic-clinical implications; and clinical decision support tools with a dynamic capacity to make use of that information.” While this trend lurks farther in the future, we need to begin to educate ourselves now.

What is your perspective on the Top Ten Jobs and Tech Trends? Do you agree with my assessment, or is your experience different? I welcome your thoughts and look forward to the dialogue.

About Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN

Joyce Sensmeier, RN-BC, MS, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, is HIMSS Vice President, Informatics.
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