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Highly valued skills in healthcare technology

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By Madhuri Raya, Senior Director, Software Engineering, Optum Global Solutions

India’s health tech industry is projected to reach $50 billion by 2030. The technological advancements driving this growth are indispensable in creating a future that offers high-quality, affordable, and accessible care for all. All of this translates to job opportunities for technologists in the healthcare sector, where the demand for domain and technical skills is ever-increasing.

Some essential skills to develop an impactful career in health tech are:

1. AI and deep learning  
While experts have continued to gradually expand the usage of artificial intelligence in health care for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated rapid applications of its capabilities in drug discovery, testing, prevention, vaccine development, and more. With an increase in the utilisation of technology, there is also an increased demand for experts in the field.

The demand also extends to deep learning experts, who can help by developing end-to-end sophisticated AI solutions to provide insights at every stage of the healthcare continuum, from diagnostics to care delivery and from health data analytics to population health management.

The advances extend beyond helping connect disparate data sets using AI and machine learning technologies to get a more unified picture of the individuals behind the data. Professionals in the field can also contribute to enabling early diagnosis and better outcomes and reducing the cost of care.

2. Cloud computing
One of the four pillars of the quadruple aim of health care is affordability. Cloud computing not only leads to efficient operations but also lower costs by enabling users to gain access to services such as storage software, databases, and networking, via the internet through a cloud provider. It also allows for easy tracking of patient data and safe storage as well as telehealth care delivery.

It is estimated that the cloud manages data for approximately 83% of the global healthcare sector. This necessitates the hiring of cloud engineers and architects who can design, implement, configure, and maintain cloud-based systems in health-tech organisations. Cloud service platform expertise, programming language knowledge, and database management experience, among other things, are highly sought-after skills in health technologists.

3. Extended Reality (XR)
Global augmented reality and virtual reality in health care are projected to grow at a  CAGR  rate of 26.88% from 2022 to 2030.  COVID-19 has fuelled the rise of these immersive technologies, making way for increasingly leveraged augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies in health care.

Applications of XR technology in health care are going to be widespread in intraoperative surgery, training of health care professionals, physiotherapy, accurate diagnosis, anatomy, visualisation, and more, with the potential to reduce costs and enhance patient satisfaction.

Skills like programming, UI/UX development, project management, etc. along with a passion for driving impact and improving health care for everyone, are imperative for aspiring professionals in the field.

4. Data science
In health care, the primary focus of technology services has affixed to data interoperability, collaboration, and keeping all health care professionals connected as patients progress through their treatment or care plan.

Health care organisations, hospitals, and other care facilities rely on these systems to manage patient care, billing, healthcare data, and other tasks. Data scientists and healthcare software engineers are tasked with helping to develop these systems. Companies are seeking software engineers who have a knowledge of security controls, governance procedures, and compliance, as well as abilities in C#, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Linux development, and Java.

5. Actuarial science

With health care evolving and becoming increasingly complex, the demand for actuaries is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Armed with an understanding of risk management and programming skills, actuaries bring a lot of value to the industry by analysing medical trends, developing customised products, and helping stakeholders make informed decisions about the costs, growth, and benefits associated with different care plans and policies.
Identifying new variables to estimate risks better would improve health equity and create an environment of trust and security amongst insurers, providers, regulators, and the end customer.

As the application of technology increases in health care, actuaries will prove to be extremely valuable to government and insurance agencies, research organisations, consulting firms, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Along with relevant education, aspiring professionals in the field will need technical expertise, excellent problem-solving skills, and a deep understanding of statistical analysis, mathematics, and economics.

Technologists making way for the future
Technology is helping modernise, streamline, and simplify the complex and fragmented health system, which has been difficult to navigate for both consumers and the organisations serving them. While technological advancements have always had an undeniable impact on almost all processes and practices in health care, COVID has accelerated their influence at an unprecedented rate. Working in this space offers professionals the opportunity to build solutions that can help create the future of health care and make a real impact on the communities around them.

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