Monday, May 9, 2011

Health IT careers for physicians

Author: Mehul Sheth, DO FAAP

Dr. Kim’s fourth category is near and dear to me-technology and informatics. I not only work in this field, but continuously find new and interesting trends and topics that keep my interest peaked. My focus on other areas waxes and wanes, but by it’s nature, there’s always something new in technology!

Informatics has been on the front burner in the news also-automation of health records and physician workflows is seen as a way to cut down on unnecessary medical error and duplication of tests and procedures along with a whole host of other benefits. This has kept it a hot topic in politics, finance and medicine-a deadly combo that means that there’s also a lot of misinformation out there. In the end, electronic health records and other technology can go a long way to greatly improving healthcare, but humans will always be needed, so fear not!

There are numerous great books that talk about technology alone as well as technology and medicine. To me the most interesting are those that reflect upon how technology has changed society for both the better and the worse. One of the first books that did that was The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Friedman. Although now 6 years old now, at the time of publication this book lead the thought on globalization and outsourcing. Even though it sounds as though it should be classified in the business section, the only reason this book could come around is because of the efficiency of networks. It is truly a seminal book that is a must read for anyone looking to see the impact of technology on a large scale.

As a technophile I get excited by the newest and greatest-whether it’s a gadget or app, I’m always looking for the next great thing. As easy as it is to get caught up in this cycle, it’s nice to get a broader perspective on technology. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Borzoi Books) by Tim Wu takes the last 100 years of technology, from the telegraph to the internet, and provides a great perspective. Again, the focus is not on the technology itself, but what it does for society and the individual. Monopolies and dynasties are made by manipulating emerging technology (or suppressing them in some cases) for the benefit of a single corporation. What comes out so clearly from this book is that a similar pattern is seen with the emergence of each new technological shift. It’s a great book and the parallels that you will draw to our current technology environment will make you want to become an activist.

There’s a number of books that focus solely on technology-
-but the two I discuss above take innovation and put it in a larger perspective. If you think that an career in health IT might be something you could make a career of, pick up any of the books mentioned, read them and drop a comment to let me know what you thought.

About the author

Mehul Sheth is a Board Certified Pediatrician who works for Allscripts, a leading Health IT company. He has designed and delivered social media strategies for varied medical organizations. He is also an award-winning clinical teacher and holds positions for both local and national AAP committees as well as a career coach. He loves spending his free time with his wife and three kids.

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