Saint Joseph's University

A Closer Look at Health Care and the Internet

In a world that is increasingly dependent on technology, it should come as no surprise that the health care field is following suit and digitizing as well. Advances in technology have opened the door for the Internet to play a significantly larger role in complex health care environments using electronic devices, or the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a relatively recent technological development in the field of health care, and it has made it possible for health care providers to remotely monitor the health of their patients using sensors, actuators, and regular mobile communications devices. Thus far, the IoT has proven to be most useful (and most popular) in the areas of personal health and fitness, chronic disease management, and in the medical care of children and the elderly.

Such medical devices include those that are wearable and range from the simple and common, like the Nike Fuel Band, to the more futuristic and advanced, like the 9Solutions IPCS. This system works with cell phones and is used to protect people who work by themselves and people who are likely to need health care but live alone, like residents in an assisted living facility, by calling for help if medical assistance is needed.

The technology is designed to respond to situations such as the resident moving into an unsecure location, and can even store and monitor medical information and sound an alarm if the user’s information suddenly differs greatly from the norm. These devices also include notifications that remind people to take medication and transmit data from a person’s home to hospital staff. Such technology is being used in hospitals and private homes, and has made real-time health care management possible.

More amazing advances have become available each year. Wearable technology company AiQ created a t-shirt that can monitor vital signs such as heart and respiration rate. The shirt can be further customized to measure electrophysiological signals such as EKG and EEG. The same company also developed the ArmorMan pullover, which has padding that stiffens on contact.

The IoT medical devices have proven to be a highly successful way in which nations around the world can improve patient care, but they also naturally come with challenges. Maintaining the privacy of patients’ personal data is one such challenge, as is creating applications that are flexible and can evolve. Additionally, doctors and other health care personnel must learn to use these new applications; in particular, they must learn how to use this technology to improve the lives of their individual patients.

The Importance of the Internet for Health care Professionals

Health care administrators play a vital role in the clinical and hospital facilities in which they work. Their major function involves the planning, coordinating, and overseeing of all activities and staff in the organization. They must also stay current with technological advances in the industry. An advanced degree like a Master’s in Health Administration will aid those who are looking to break into or who are already working in the fast-growing health care administration field. It should be noted that many medical facilities prefer to hire an applicant who has had some experience working as a clinician, perhaps as a nurse or therapist. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, expected job growth is 23% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the national average.

Those who wish to work in health care administration, and are interested in keeping up with the latest technology, can obtain a Master's in Health Administration with a track in Informatics. The Informatics track instructs students on the effective management, development, and evaluation of electronic medical records and on matters relating to IT infrastructure while emphasizing ways in which to improve patient care through high-quality data management. Students will be better equipped to manage the digital links between health care practitioners, and will become skilled in information resources management, clinical care, and programming.

One of the major challenges of the digitization of health care is the management of patient records and maintaining the privacy of patient and facility data. Students who specialize in Informatics will be able to meet these challenges head on. The track explores data warehouses and repositories as well as integration technology and strategies for the implementation of technology in medical facilities. While health care has only scratched the surface of the Internet of Things, with great technological advances comes security issues and a need for highly trained professionals.

Ultimately, health care will only continue to incorporate the Internet. A report discussed in Forbes estimates that the health care Internet of Things will reach $117 billion by the year 2020. This highlights the importance of providing more training to increase technological skill among health care administrators. With the enormous benefits that come with IoT medical devices, it is more important than ever that administrators not only oversee their incorporation into health care facilities, but also that they understand the merits, risks, and how to use the technology to improve patient care.

Healthcare is changing and opportunity awaits. Learn more about Saint Joseph’s University’s online Master of Science in Health Administration today by visiting our website or by calling (866) 758-7670.

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