What Healthcare Industry Growth Means for IT Professionals and Medical Coders

By DeVry University

As the U.S. population ages, jobs in the healthcare industry will continue to grow over the next ten years. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates approximately 1.9 million new healthcare jobs – more than any other occupational group – between 2018 and 2028. So what jobs will be impacted by this increased demand, and will you be prepared for the changes?

New Technology Will Drive Demand in IT

If one thing is certain, it's that automation will continue to take over more healthcare tasks. And that's not a bad thing, because an industry this essential cannot afford to have downtime.

Doctors, patients and their families must often make life-changing decisions based on information in their medical records. A system error could mean the difference between life and death. Companies rely on IT professionals to make sure that databases are kept current and any interruptions are fixed quickly. Doing this is a challenge, but IT process automation can provide a solution. IT process automation finds issues like system outages so that the problem can be corrected immediately.

"As technology advances and automation takes on a greater role, I see the need for IT Managers and Systems Administrators to increase over the coming years," says DeVry University Assistant National Dean and Visiting Professor, Sarah Dubowsky, Ph.D. "Technology is constantly evolving, and companies are looking for employees who are not only knowledgeable in their field, but also adaptable, analytical and eager to learn."

Medical Coders Will Continue to Play a Critical Role

As with other areas of the healthcare industry, automation is impacting tasks related to medical coding as well. Tech such as voice recognition software is becoming more popular for things like medical transcription and populating electronic health records, but that doesn't mean that humans won’t continue to play an important role in the record keeping process. It’s easy for an automated system to incorrectly code what it picks up in a medical document, and human verification is critical to avoid billing errors and insurance complications.

"While an automated system can create efficiencies, medical coders are highly specialized and would be very difficult to replace," says DeVry University Associate Professor Gregory Zaleski, MBA, RHIA. "Technology, at this point, simply cannot process every detail of an individual patient’s records, especially when there are unique circumstances or unforeseen changes. That's where the medical coder comes into play."

The Future of Healthcare Demands Qualified Professionals

As more and more jobs become available in the healthcare field, you can expect to see a growing need for qualified, tech-savvy employees who are ready to adapt to the changing landscape of the industry. "That's where continuous learning can make the difference," says Dubowsky. "Professionals won’t be able to rely on work experience alone. Continuing to seek knowledge or advance your education in the latest industry changes and technology will be critical for anyone looking to stay competitive in their field."

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