Big Data and Jobs for Life Scientists

Posted in BioBusiness

Many recent articles in various publications including the lay media suggest that persons with quantitative skills and a firm grasp of the scientific method will be in high demand in the near future. This is because there is a current data surge coming from “sophisticated tracking of shipments, sales, suppliers and customers, as well e-mail, Web traffic and social network comments.” And, the quantity of business data has been estimated to double every 1.2 years!

According to a 2011 report Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition and Productivity” put together by the McKinsey Global Institute, harvesting, managing, mining and analyzing “big new data sets” can lead to a new wave of innovation, accelerated productivity and economic growth. And, the place where this may be felt first is theUS healthcare system. The report asserts that better management of big data sets can lead to as much as $300 billion in savings. Also, American retail companies could possibly increase their operating profit margins by as much as 60 percent. However, one of the major hurdles to this paradigm shift is a talent and skills gap. TheUS alone will likely need 140,000 to 190,000 with expertise in statistical methods and data-analysis skills. McKinsey also notes that an additional 1.5 million data-literate manages will be required. Accordingly, “Every manager will really have to understand something about statistics and experimental design going forward,” noted one of the report’s authors.

As far as jobs for scientists in the healthcare realm are concerned, the report suggests that

“….the biggest slice of the $300 billion gain is expected to come from more effectively using data to inform treatment decisions. The tools include clinical decision support to assist doctors, and comparative effectiveness research to make more informed decisions on drug therapy.” That said, life scientists with backgrounds in statistical analyses, bioinformatics, genomics, public health, epidemiology and quantitative analysis will be ideal candidates for these new job opportunities.”

While these types of jobs (mainly health informatics) are certain to available in the future, it isn’t clear how soon. This is because the big-data trend has just begun and, according to economists, it may take years to recognize its financial advantages and benefits. In any event, it is something for life scientists who may be considering alternate career options, to think about. To that end, if you begin to train for these opportunities now, you may find yourself in the right place at the right time in the not-to-distant future.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

Maximizing Patient Engagement During Clinical Trials

Posted in BioBusiness

Recruiting, retaining and managing patients that participate in clinical trials for approval of new medicines and devices have becoming very challenging in the past decade or more. Ironically, the ready availability of experimental new medicines in the US for certain therapeutic areas including oncology, neuroscience and vaccines have forced life sciences companies and CROs to conduct many Phase I and Phase II trials outside of the US. In turn, the globalization of clinical trials has forced many sponsors to increasingly rely on e-based and mobile solutions for patient recruitment, retention and compliance.

The Advance Learning Institute’s conference entitled “Patient Recruitment, Compliance And Retention For Clinical Trials: Integrating The Latest Technologies With Traditional Tools To Maximize Patient Engagement” that will be held in Manhattan on October 24-26, 2011 will provide attendees with insights into the best practices to maximize patient engaged in clinical trials. Presentations will be given by a variety of pharmaceutical companies, CROs and academic institutions including Pfizer, Merck Research Laboratories, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Celgene Corporation, Quintiles, Omniscience Mobile, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. A complete agenda for the conference can be found here.

Those of you who mention BioJobBlog or BioCrowd when registering for the conference will receive a $200 registration discount.

See you at the meeting!!!!!!!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

BioCrowd Launches the BioJob Center

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Looking for a job can be overwhelming, time consuming and emotionally draining. Recognizing this, BioCrowd founders Cliff Mintz and Vincent Racaniello began searching for a tool that would help to reduce the pain associated with looking for a job. To that end, BioCrowd in association with Career Management Source, Inc— an emerging, life sciences recruiting management software company —are pleased to announce the launch of the BioJob Center at the BioCrowd.

The BioJob Center offers both job seekers and employers ‘real time,’ current job listings, application tracking, and e-mail job alerts. Job seekers can search for jobs (based on job title and/or location) and directly apply for them from the job center.

Employers can list job openings; advertise jobs; call out ‘hot jobs’ or search candidate resume databases. Jobs posted to the BioJob Center are also simultaneously listed on other job sites including www.JobJobHealth.com and Twitter Jobs. Other job boards and sites will be added in the near future.

The search engine that powers the job center was specifically designed to automatically ‘pull’ thousands of job listings from life sciences corporate websites, bioscience job boards and other sources. Job search results are updated in real time and positions that have already been filled are automatically eliminated from search results. This feature prevents job seekers from wasting time applying for jobs that no longer exist!

Job seekers can post their resumes and join the BioJob Center for free! One of the cooler features of the new tool is customized candidate e-mail alerts. Job seekers who use this feature receive alerts when new jobs (that meet specifications) are posted to the BioJob Center or added in real time by the search engine. This helps to save time by avoiding multiple visits to job boards and conducting an endless number of Google searches.

Whether you are a job seeker or employer, Vincent and I believe that the BioJob Center will help to expedite and alleviate some of the stress associated with job searches.

Please visit the BioJob Center today and let us know what you think! Also, those of you who may have suggestions, ideas, kudos, kvetches, etc please feel free to contact me!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

 

Medicare is Offering Bonuses to Digitize Medical Records

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Officials for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced on Wednesday that the agency plans on distributing billions in stimulus monies to upgrade the nation’s paper medical records to electronic ones. Under the proposal, doctors and hospitals that keep UPDATED electronic medical records (EMR) of their patients could receive bonus payments for using EMR-based software systems. While the proposal that was floated is not definite, it was posted to the agency’s website and is open for public comment for 60 days before the final guidelines are issued. 

According to agency spokespersons, healthcare professionals (HCPs) who use EMR for 80 per cent of their medical instructions could receive bonus payments. This means that HCPs would have to provide patients with printouts of their medical history and use computers for potential drug-drug interactions. Further, hospitals would be required to complete 10 per cent of medical orders electronically. Separately, the agency laid out technology standards that EMR software should meet to qualify for the program.

Although technology standards for government-based EMR systems have now been delineated, similar standards for private sector EMR keeping systems have yet to be clearly enunciated by the government. Many hospitals and HCP organizations hastily threw together EMR plans to qualify for stimulus monies that were disbursed early last year. Unfortunately, at present, there is still no general consensus on the software platforms and middleware programs that will need to be developed so that different EMR systems can communicate with one another! Consequently, the national drive to digitize paper medical records is occurring in a haphazard and piecemeal fashion. To realize improved efficiencies and cost savings, I contend that general guidelines ought to be issued before too much private sector work goes on. Allowing the private sector to dictate technology standards may not be in the best interest of a national EMR effort. Nevertheless, as I mentioned an earlier post this week, healthcare informatics is one of the fasted growing industries in the US!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Its Official: Health Informatics is One of the Hottest New Career Options for LIfe Scientists

Posted in BioJobBuzz

I don’t want to brag but I have been touting career options in health informatics and health information technology (HIT) for the past year or so. Today, I came across a post by CareerBuilders declaring health informatics and HIT are the hottest new career trends to hit the market in recent years. 

As the drive towards digitizing medical and healthcare records continue, there will be literally thousands of job opportunities for people with the right skill sets. Getting a nursing degree is one of the steps to achieve a great career in health informatics!

Health informatics will put technology in place that provides hospitals and other health-care providers with access to an electronic network of vital patient information such as like medical histories and prescriptions. The information age finally meets healthcare administration.

The facts
The health informatics initiative won’t succeed unless employees — that’s you! — bring the specialized skills needed to build and expand the network. All other pieces are in place:

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes $20.6 billion to help providers drive adoption and development of the IT infrastructure needed
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects health information management employment to grow nearly 18 percent by 2016
  • The BLS projects a need for more than 6,000 new professionals each year through 2014 — but only 2,600 graduates have entered the field this past year 

Your opportunity
To succeed, health informatics (HIM) will demand a wide variety of specialized positions across IT and health care. It will engage conventional experience from both areas — such as registered nurses and LPNs/LVNs, or IT implementation specialists and IT project managers — if you’re looking for a new twist on your current career.

But new positions will also thrive in this hybrid field. Look for new HIM job titles in your next job search, like health IT professionals, HIM coders, HIM medical records professionals and various health informatics specialists, including trainers, researchers and analysts.

Get online to check out the job titles mentioned above and listed below for related descriptions, and see if you might need any additional training to meet requirements: 

Nursing
- Telemedicine clinical professionals

- Chief nursing information officers

- Clinical IT liaisons 

Again, getting a nursing degree is one of the steps to achieve a successful career in health informatics

Health-care administration
- Medical and health services managers

- Document scanners

- Data entry clerks

- File clerks

IT specialists
- Senior programmers

- Senior clinical analysts

- Database analysts

- Developers

- Business analysts

- Software engineers

- Data integration specialists

Not too shabby of a list! In a previous blog post I identified a variety of training options for people interested in pursuing careers in health informatics and HIT. Check it out!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Are Smart Phones Medical Devices?

Posted in Social Media

The answer to this question is not yet! However, the The Wall Street Journal recently reported that 64% of U.S. physicians are using smart phones (up 50% from two years ago) and increasingly are relying on them to find medical information, manage patients and transmitting clinical data. To that end, a post at the Medical Translation Insights blog discusses the changing role of smart phones in healthcare and the regulatory challenges they may face if classified as medical devices.

 When Cell Phones Become Medical Devices

The definition of "medical device" is shifting, quickly and dramatically.  The revised MDD now includes stand-alone software in the definition. In other words,if software has a medical purpose, it probably can/must be CE marked. And smart phones are quickly becoming the conduit of choice for collecting and researching, disseminating, and evaluating clinical data.

As Bob on Medical Device Software points out, its unique user interface, display, and broadband capabilities make the Apple iPhone a particularly attractive platform for medical applications. For example, the AirStrip OBSERVER suite of applications is custom-designed for the iPhone, makes some components available for download at the Apple App Store, and received FDA clearance for some modalities.

While most medical apps fall into the reference category, applications are getting more sophisticated and are taking advantage of the devices networking abilities. A trio of applications developed by researchers at the University of Utah aptly demonstrate these advances. Another factor is the appeal and widespread use of these devices. The Wall Street Journal reports [login required] today that 64% of U.S. physicians are using smart phones.

There are several big questions and unknowns hanging over these developments: First and foremost, there is the question of data security. As quoted in the same WSJ article, Deborah Peel of Patient Privacy Rights worries that "the vast majority of health information technology has not been designed to ensure that patients control access to that data and use of that data". So, paradoxically, the more ways that doctors can access patients’ records, the more their confidentiality is threatened.

Second, what is the quality threshold for smart phone applications? Just because something is on the iPhone doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a quality application

Regulators around the world are bound to tackle these questions. FDA, for instance, is already looking at this issue and sooner or later will regulate certain phones. It’s certainly not the end of the world to be classified as a medical device, but verification and validation of these applications won’t be easy.

 As these applications get developed and become part of a networked medical device, language will also become an issue again. Translation service providers will need to become familiar with smart phone development and localization issues and support consistently translated content across multiple platforms and media.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

ForeignExchange Translations provides specialized language services to pharmaceutical and medical device companies

Health Information Technology: The Next Frontier

Posted in BioJobBuzz

In a previous post I lauded health information technology (HIT) aka health informatics as a possible new career choice for scientists with life sciences PhD degrees who also have a proclivity for software development and data base management. Shortly after I posted the piece, I happened to read an article in a local publication about a NJ-based company called the MISI Company that is at the forefront of the HIT field and developing software to help digitize American healthcare records. 

I invited Dave Roth, an MISI executive, to share his views on the future of HIT and what ought to be done to insure that e-medical records are appropriately and successfully created. BTW, for my bioinformatics and genomics friends, MISI is looking to hire a few talented men and women who are interested in HIT careers.

HIT: The Other Missing Link

by Dave Roth

Health information technology (HIT) is hot. There’s every reason to believe that HIT will play a major role in the reforms envisioned for our health care system. From President Obama announcing $5B in grants to aid medical research, to bioinformaticists developing tools for predicting genetic predisposition to diseases, to software developers working on electronic medical records (EMR) systems, HIT is a burgeoning field. What concerns people like me – read: people who are users of technology rather than the developers of it – is that all this HIT talk seems to have very little mention of us in it.

Not long ago, I wrote an article called The Missing Link in Healthcare IT: The Consumer. In it I pointed out that none of the current government definitions being proposed for "meaningful use" of electronic medical record (EMR) systems define meaningful from the healthcare consumer’s perspective. I also noted that whatever rules the government establishes for receiving stimulus money for the development of HIT solutions, none of them will exclude technologists from collaborating with consumers in the development of their solutions. I posited that technologists would be doing us all a favor if they would stop to consider for a moment how their systems will affect the consumer’s experience of health care services.

I was encouraged when David Goldhill, in his cover story in the September 2009 issue of Atlantic Monthly, How American Health Care Killed My Father, wrote, “[A] guiding principle of any reform should be to put the consumer, not the insurer or the government, at the center of the system.” Goldhill’s prescription for a better health care system begins with advocating for the consumers of services and focusing on how to get the best outcomes for those consumers at a reasonable cost. He was channeling the views of many people, such as Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger, who believe consumer-driven health care is the only reform that will truly be meaningful.

The growing visibility of the consumer in this debate has gotten me to thinking there is real opportunity in the HIT job market for another missing link: Consumer-centric Health IT Developers. It is a rare developer who brings to his/her craft an appreciation of the importance of understanding who you are developing for. Rarer still is the developer who is aware of and employs tools and techniques for capturing end-users’ feedback during the development process. More often than not, user-centered design (UCD) is considered a luxury that burns up time and precious dollars. This misconception is largely the result of development teams typically waiting until they are too far into the development cycle before engaging with those who will be using their creation. Inevitably, problems are discovered with the usability or utility of the system that will hinder adoption. But the problems are discovered too late to be fixed by the target launch date and/or within budget. Users/Consumers become the enemy in this scenario.

There is another way. HIT technologists should understand how and why to engage their target audience at the beginning of the development process, long before anything is actually developed. They should begin by understanding who they are developing for, what these people are looking to accomplish, and how they can best help them accomplish it. Using such techniques has been shown to actually reduce downstream development work and increase adoption. I believe technologists schooled in the techniques of consumer-centered design will be central to any successful, long-term health care reform.

Dave is Vice President and  heads MISI Company’s Experience Design (XD) group – a group of strategists, experience architects, visual designers and technologists whose mission is to help ensure the success of every interaction between a business and its target audience. His career spans 30 years and includes award-winning work in documentary and corporate film/video, print advertising, and interactive software application development for computers and the Internet. Dave is a Stanford University grad, a SF 49ers fan and a member of the Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Society.

 

A New Life Sciences Career Option: Health Informatics

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Are you a life sciences or healthcare professional with a passion for computers, IT or software development? If so, you might want to consider a career in health informatics—one of the hottest, new fields in the life sciences and healthcare industries. Health informatics specialists typically have expertise in medical records and claims, clinical care and programming. In other words, they have a foot in two worlds— medicine and technology — and can easily bridge the often daunting gap between them. It is important to point out that there is a difference between healthcare IT and informatics personnel. The health IT people run the servers and install software, but the informatics people are the ones who analyze and interpret clinical/ medical information and work with clinical and other healthcare staff to advise and help them.

According to an article in this Sunday’s NY Times, health informatics specialists usually start as computer programmers or as doctors, nurses, pharmacists or health record administrators. After earning a graduate health informatics degree, they find jobs as mid level or senior employees at hospitals, doctor’s offices, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies or other organizations concerned with health data. Mid level jobs, like those for clinical analysts or informatics analysts, are usually about $70,000 a year, but salaries can be much higher for more senior level positions.  Senior level jobs, which sometimes require a Ph.D., include chief clinical information officer or other management/leadership roles at medical devices, life sciences or insurance companies. Consulting firms are also hiring health informatics experts to serve many of their health care clients who frequently don’t have the resources to hire permanent informatics staff.

At present there are no educational, licensing or credential requirements to become a health informaticist. However, a growing need for health informaticists has resulted in the creation of a number of degree programs at two and four year colleges and universities. For example, within the past four years, Columbia University, St. Louis University, the University of Minnesota and Oregon Health and Science University have all added master’s programs or certificates in health informatics. Other schools offer short courses or part-time certificate programs to healthcare employees or programmers. Still others are adding undergraduate majors or associates degrees programs to their curricula.

While many schools are beginning to offer health informatics programs, not all informatics programs are “created equal.” Generally speaking, “medical” or “biomedical” informatics programs focus on data that doctors need for treating patients. Bioinformatics” programs concentrate on biological or genetic data, while “health informatics” programs often emphasize clinical data and health records. Even among programs with the same name, the emphasis and expertise may vary at different institutions that offer the training.

By all accounts, health informatics —despite some early confusion—is one of the fastest growing careers in the bioscience and healthcare fields. Unlike other fields in the shrinking life sciences industry, there are plenty of jobs out there for health informaticists. Ironically, the failing US economy is what is driving the growth of the health informatics industry. The US government’s economic stimulus package has allocated $19 billion to hastening the adoption of electronic health records, so demand for health informatics specialists is skyrocketing. “My rough estimate is that we need about 70,000 health informaticists,” said Don E. Detmer, president and chief executive of the American Medical Informatics Association, a nonprofit industry group.

However, as a word of caution, it usually takes more than technical skills and an understanding of health care to succeed as a health informaticist. Diplomacy and conflict resolution skills are crucial when dealing with two potentially contentious groups: healthcare workers and programmers. Nevertheless, healthcare informatics is an ideal field for bioscientists and healthcare workers who also like to work with technology, computers or develop software. Based on my recent experiences as a bioscience career counselor, I know that there are thousands of you out there that fit this description. Now be the time to take a closer look at the exciting, new field of health informatics to determine whether or not it may be a career option for you!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!

 

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Some Cool Web 2.0 Tools for Bioscientists

Posted in BioJobBuzz

I was reading Karen Ventii’s Science to Life blog today and she “turned me on” to a couple of new web-based tools that I think might be useful to people who work in the biosciences. I added Karen’s recommendations to a list that I was building and decided that it had reached enough of a critical mass to share it with you.

The first of these new tools is called graduatejunction.com, a research community primarily aimed at graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. According to its founders—a team of UK graduate students at Durham and Oxford universities—the intent of graduatejunction.com is build a community of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows so that members can stay abreast of research activities within in the community and to connect with other community members who share common research interests. Not a bad idea, considering that many graduate students and postdocs frequently operate in intentional mentor-induced research vacuums.

The second is called labmeeting.com. It is a novel, web-based tool that helps researchers organize (and search) personal PDF collections, share laboratory protocols, Powerpoint presentations and other scientific data with their lab mates. The software was created by graduate students at Stanford University and it aims to organize laboratory research so that it can be conducted more efficiently and at a faster pace (time is money after all). I think that this concept has legs and might be a big winner downstream (although security will be of paramount importance).

Another new tool that warrants praise is biomedexperts.com that was created by Collexis, Inc. In my opinion, biomedexperts.com is the “mother of all” publication search tools and literature management systems. Billed as the first literature-based social network, it allows users to quickly perform personalized literature searches (based on authorship and research interests) and then identify potential collaborators or competitors who have published in the same research areas. Unfortunately, while biomedexperts.com is a “monster” web-based, literature search application, the communication and interactivity between community members is extremely limited and almost non-existent.

Finally, for those of you who are tired of using PubMed’s arcane Boolean search algorithm to find relevant publications, you might consider trying a new free search engine (semanticmedline.com) that allows users to search MEDLINE using phrases or “conventional sentences." Cognition Technologies, creator of the site, says its “semantic natural language processing technology "incorporates word and phrase knowledge to comprehend the meaning and nuances of the English language." Although early reviews suggest that semanticmedline.com might not powerful enough for doing comprehensive science literature searches, it may be useful in situations when you are working on a time-sensitive project or you need to quickly find an article for this afternoon’s journal club meeting (that you failed  to enter into your blackberry or iPhone).

Check them out—they are all pretty cool (for scientists anyway-not that there is anything wrong with that)!

Until next time

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!