We are constantly in transformation. Skills that are difficult for older people become commonplace for future generations. For example, there are fewer computational biologists and bioinformatics specialists among Generation X than among Generations Y or Z.
For millennials, as well as for the Zetas, the use of modern technology in various fields is a natural process. Today, great opportunities are open for self-realization in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence in medicine. One of these is to become an IT medic or bioinformaticist.
Natural Sciences And Computers: How New Specialties Appeared
Specialties at the junction of different scientific fields became relevant in the middle of the twentieth century. A striking example is the work “The Chemical Foundations of Morphogenesis”, published in 1952 by Alan Turing, one of the pioneers of computer science. The author used the computer technology of that time to create a mathematical model. This model could describe the biological process of the arrangement of leaves on the stem for optimal light access. Around the same time, an attempt was made to decode DNA on one of the first MANIAC I computers.
Traditional biological methods became ineffective when humans were faced with processing gigantic amounts of data. Biologists are increasingly turning to the capabilities of computers.
In the late 1980s, mathematician Pedro Miramontes coined the term “in silico” to denote biological experiments using mathematical modeling. Thus, he equated the significance of these studies with laboratory methods in vitro and in vivo (in a living organism). From this moment it becomes clear that biology can no longer exist separately from information systems. This is how bioinformatics appeared.
Bioinformatics scientists use computer techniques to solve biological problems. With the help of programming, it is possible, for example, to diagnose genetic diseases in children even before birth. IT medicine is an applied field that takes such capabilities far beyond laboratory research.
What Does an IT Medic do?
The reason for the emergence of IT medicine was the modern challenges of healthcare:
- Population growth
- Still limited access to quality medical care in developing countries, an increase in life expectancy
- The frequency of chronic diseases.
The fundamental goal of health care is to improve the life quality of people through health promotion, prevention, and treatment. And one of the ways to achieve it is the digitalization of medicine.
The synthesis of medicine and technology is especially important for solving problems in the areas where the rates of morbidity and mortality are the highest – in cardiology and oncology.
According to the WHO, it is cardiovascular diseases and cancer that claim the most lives around the world. Often, to operate on a heart or tumor, the surgeon needs to see not only the affected area but also the surrounding areas. In order to less traumatize healthy tissue, doctors resort to X-ray control. The pictures are taken right during the operation, and the image is displayed on the screens of monitors placed next to the patient.
According to the Philips Research laboratory, IT medicine can be used to find an even more high-tech and effective approach. Researchers believe that augmented reality (AR) will be beneficial for such interventions. With the help of this technology, the doctors will see in front of them not only the operating area but also the projected image of the patient’s hard tissues.
IT doctors work with big data, analyze and organize medical information. They create software for medical and diagnostic equipment.
Ideally, an IT medic is a versatile person who is fluent in computer science and medicine. Their technological expertise helps to create new healthcare software products. They must be a good doctor to understand the needs of the field and draw the right conclusions based on data analysis.
How to Become an IT Medic
If you wonder how to become an IT Medic you should consider the partner programs of universities with large organizations and leading clinics. Since here there is an opportunity not only to gain theoretical knowledge but also to undergo an internship, get acquainted with the unique expertise of partner organizations.
The availability of online education today allows students and current doctors to gain theoretical knowledge in the field of IT medicine and work with data. Open sources of foreign universities and organizations play an important role here (for example, the website of the American Association for Medical Informatics).
For professionals who already work in such an innovative medical field, a platform like Philips IntelliSpace Discovery will be useful. This platform is designed to combine the efforts and capabilities of different medical organizations in creating new data processing algorithms. Each participant contributes to the achievement of a common goal. Someone is ready to provide the necessary data, someone does an excellent job of building complex mathematical models. Some participants are programmers by vocation. Scientific work within the framework of one institution is much less fruitful. And with the help of this system, knowledge can be accumulated and shared.
Today, artificial intelligence copes well with a narrow range of tasks. But, of course, the scope and capabilities of AI in medicine will expand over time. This means that the demand for the specialty of IT medicine will also increase.
Where to go to Work For an IT Physician
According to the analytical company Frost & Sullivan, the volume of the market for artificial intelligence in the field of medicine will grow to $ 6.16 billion by 2022. For comparison, experts of the analytical company Zion Market Research have calculated that in 2018 the volume of the global market for AI technologies for healthcare reached $ 1.4 billion.
IT doctors can find work in research centers around the world, as well as small private laboratories.
Specialists can apply their experience and knowledge in all areas of medicine:
- Molecular Biology
- Systems Biology and many others
Soon, the expertise of IT doctors will be required in all clinics. Another potential place of employment for such specialists is government think tanks. This is where knowledge of medicine and the ability to analyze data comes in handy.
IT doctors will also be in demand by private companies that are engaged in technologies for health care. For example, the largest IT company IBM has developed the IBM Watson supercomputer equipped with an artificial intelligence system. IBM’s Watson Health portfolio includes platforms for oncology, cardiology, radiology, and other areas of medicine.
Despite the impressive achievements of IT medicine, the full potential of the industry has not come yet. Vinod Khosla, the founder of Sun Microsystems, said: “In the next 10 years, data science and software will do more for medicine than all of the biological sciences together ”.