Health IT is revolutionizing healthcare in front of our eyes. Every other day, you hear about yet another device or app that measures various aspects of your health, reports findings to doctors. Some of the biggest names in the business world have entered the healthcare market or at least experimented with it (sorry, Google Health, better luck next time). Between HITECH, HIPAA and the monetary implications of the Affordable Care Act, there’s a governmental push for HIT as well, which in some ways bestows an immediacy (and dollars) to health IT.
To regular IT people, health IT looks like a great industry to be in. Healthcare is generally considered recession proof, there’s ample opportunity for innovation, and there’s a certain democratization in how health is managed – an iPhone app can do what your optometrist did, and while you’re never going to be able to write yourself a prescription for sunglasses, there’s a lot more you can know about your health compared to 10 years ago.
And yet, here’s the secret. Not many IT folks know how to make the jump to health IT. I get this question all the time – how do *I* make the switch to healthcare IT? To me at least, it looked as if the best thing would be to network with healthcare industry people, and figure out a way to segue inwards. Clearly there’s a shortfall of health IT professionals (and the paradoxical personal experiences that the newly minted health IT certified folks face – not being trained on vendor specific software is making it difficult to get jobs, but that’s another topic for another day.)
That’s why I’m particularly enthused by what’s coming from the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). ONC is spearheading Innovation Exchanges as part of the White House Startup America initiatives. The idea for the exchanges is to bring together healthcare stakeholders with developers and others from the IT world, so they can work together from early stage idea innovation right through to the concrete realization of these ideas.
If you’re someone with a good health IT idea in proof-of-concept stages or even someone just breaking into the health IT market, here’s a great chance to test out the waters with healthcare people who are as eager to strike up collaborations with IT folk. Health 2.0 Conferences are scheduled in San Francisco, Indianapolis and the New England area.