At a time where the wonders of technology have reached almost all professions, drastically changing the norm and realizing potentials nobody thought we could reach, is it time for physicians to harness the power of coding? The mere suggestion that physicians and other health professionals should invest more time learning anything outside their field could be infuriating at first, or even insulting, considering the huge amount of time and work health professionals have spent studying as if it weren’t enough. However, the world is changing and whoever fails to cope will be left behind. So why should doctors learn to code?
Suggesting and creating health apps for patients
With the rise of health applications, doctors are dealing with a double-edged sword with patients asking for the most reliable apps in the market. A doctor with coding skills knows the ins and outs of such applications which can be in some cases life-threatening or potentially life-saving. In fact, emerging telehealth technology enables doctors to detect serious changes in a patients health using wearables which are accompanied by a phone app, allowing them to act quickly and prevent what could’ve otherwise happened.
Good programming skills allow the doctor to evaluate these apps preventing patients from falling for poorly designed apps which could have dangerous consequences. On the other hand, doctors could help create these apps with the help of programmers like many reliable apps that were co-founded by doctors with coding skills.
Navigating electronic health records
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all doctors have adopted a basic electronic medical record system by 2013 but this figure has increased significantly, as of today, 79.7% of office-based physicians are using a certified electronic health record/electronic medical record system. Many physicians have a hard time navigating these systems with some even refusing to use these systems and describing them as being not patient-centered, choosing to rely on paper records instead. The dissatisfaction among doctors with EHRs isn’t new, in fact, a survey done by the American Medical Association showed that only 34% of doctors were satisfied with their electronic systems. Perhaps doctors should work with programmers and tech-savvy physicians who know how to code to make systems that doctors efficient and easy to work with and perhaps these emerging coders/doctors could prove to be the missing link. These health record systems are not error or bug-free and users are often encountered by potentially dangerous bugs and anyone with basic coding knowledge will know how to deal with such inconveniences.
Improved evidence-based medicine
Data science is the core of evidence-based medicine and in today’s clinical practice evidence-based medicine has taken the center stage, which gives health professionals all the reason to learn data science which largely depends on coding and using large sets of data which can only be processed by a computer. Many discoveries in the medical field started with health professionals or researchers noticing subtle trends in certain circumstances and without the usage of big data, data analysis tools and artificial intelligence they wouldn’t have been able to prove their theories. Learning to use these tools will definitely help health professionals make the next cutting-edge discoveries especially in small research teams with no budget to hire a top-notch data analyst or programmer.
Whether it’s to create the next telehealth app or making a breakthrough discovery using big data, no one can argue with the fact that health professionals learning to code could allow us to reach new heights. This isn’t meant to make programmers working in health projects redundant but to bridge the huge gap IT experts face when trying to communicate with clueless health professionals, in an age where coding is becoming a basic form of literacy.