Redefining Tech Skills for Health TalentBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 02/16/2022 - 17:42
While technology is already used daily in healthcare, increasing its penetration could further benefit their profession and the patient, said health professionals. But despite its great promise, most health professionals feel insufficiently trained to deal with the digital revolution, according to a survey by the EU Health Parliament.
“We need to acknowledge that tech must be integrated into medical education and first train educators to pass on that information,” said Jorge Valdez, Dean of the Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty (TecSalud), Tecnológico de Monterrey. Education could benefit the profession but training should be continuous throughout the medical professional’s entire career. Training should also be practical and hands-on to directly benefit the patient.
“The industry must be aware that on this training, there are different levels of required skills,” said Sonia Mayra Pérez, Executive Director, UDIBI-IPN. Tech is highly dynamic, thus, staying updated on specialized competencies in health is a demanding job. “As care providers and educators, we must consider the basic, specific and superior levels of competences we are going to learn and teach and to whom we must teach them. Once this is defined, updating the knowledge becomes the challenge.”
Basic competences to begin with that can updated easily, according to Valdez, include:
- Providing clinical digital skills and a minimum degree of literacy in digital health.
- Having good information management and knowledge on how to manage databases.
- Providing knowhow to communicate in different environments, such as doctor-patient or colleague to colleague.
- Using digital solutions in an intelligent and hybrid way.
- Creating digital content and transferring data from paper to digital.
- Including tech in management as it is a guide to navigate sudden changes, such as a pandemic.
Tech can be the ultimate solution to many of the health and life sciences professionals’ problems because it aims to be an ally on diagnosis, management and growth. “Automation in the health sector has reflected on greater productivity and time management, which is easy to measure because projects in this sector always have a certain level of urgency and a direct impact on people's lives,” said Igor Renan da Costa, Latam Account Executive, Docusign.
Healthcare generates a large number of documents, which is one of the most urgent processes to automate to increase efficiency. “I worked on a project where an initial acquisition process took 30 days. We automated the process, reducing the acquisition process first to three days and then to seven hours. When talking about medicine delivery, the difference is significant,” da Costa said.
The benefits of the digital transformation are undeniable but so are its risks as it continues to expand. “Many companies and institutions worked on-site, accustomed to their IT department protecting their internal information. But as working processes become remote and more data is generated, users become more exposed,” explained Jorge Zita, Regional Sales Manager GHE, CrowdStrike.
Web browsing and fake emails are the most common means of attacks because they are highly used and receive little attention as they are considered safe activities in general. “These two means are the most common causes of theft and information ransoming. This implies that health professionals working with delicate, private information must be educated on how to protect it to avoid having to pay to recover the data or losing it completely,” Zita said.
Moreover, misused data can lead to an inhouse mistake or a cyberattack, according to Nidia Garza, Vice President Talent Management, MMM Holdings. “It is important to inform professionals of these dangers to make sure they are aware of what a poor understanding of tech can cause,” Garza said.
For companis or institutions in which the final user is not the patient, “safe access to information and data protection is fundamental, so it supports decision making regarding the application of tech on daily work and R&D,” said Pérez. Mexico has poor data protection practices for science and technology and it is even worse in data collaboration, even after the COVID-19 vaccine development made clear the importance of digital collaboration.
Health professionals also need to be made aware of how these tools will provide a higher quality of care. “This will boost the correct use of these technologies, because they will be seen as a medical tool rather than a lifestyle tool, taking the solution as serious as it is,” said Valdez.
When the entire sector has experienced the benefits of technology, it will be used for the greater good, for example by generating reliable health data about the Mexican health sector. “The US, for example, generates a lot of health data that is highly useful and serves to make an impact on health and social matters,” according to Valdez. The task right now is to avoid a regressive trend to paper and non-tech practices, he added. “Now that the pandemic seems to be coming to an end, we need to identify our gains with the use of tech and recognize it would be counterproductive to let the achievements go.”
Changing the mindset to permanently adopt technology is key, said da Costa. “Providers and users have experienced the benefits of tech and how it does change possibilities, now we need to use the mindset so that the solutions can permeate.”
This mindset seeks to establish data responsibility by following the three fundamental pillars of data: it needs to be reliable, integrated and available. But data also needs to be open to be used in collaboration to generate better results, said Zita.