The Healthcare & Life Sciences industry encompasses pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and food processing companies dedicated to creating products that improve organisms’ lives.
Terminology can vary significantly within the healthcare, medical and life science industries due to jargon, differing perceptions and expectations or simply language barriers. We can help your organization navigate these challenges.
Health services are those activities provided to improve human health by diagnosis, treatment or amelioration of disease, illness, injury, disability and other physical and mental impairments. They encompass the work of doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, physiotherapists, psychologists, and others.
The industry is facing new challenges, but also significant opportunities to make a difference for patients and society. Healthcare companies can drive growth by collaborating with suppliers and non-healthcare organizations, creating new supply chain models and improving patient consumerization and personalization, and by expanding telemedicine and digital care offerings. These efforts can reduce costs and increase efficiencies. They can also help reduce per-person costs, increase access and reduce medical errors.
Medications, or pharmaceuticals, are a key element of modern healthcare. They treat and prevent diseases or alleviate symptoms. Developing and manufacturing them is a huge industry.
Drugs, which are also known as pharmaceuticals, must go through rigorous testing before they can be marketed and sold to patients. That includes tests on lab animals and, if successful, on human subjects in clinical trials.
Nevertheless, the pharmaceutical industry is often subject to multimillion-dollar lawsuits, such as when Merck paid $3 billion in 2012 to settle claims that its painkiller Vioxx increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The industry is also a major contributor to the Food and Drug Administration’s budget through application fees for new drugs. It employs thousands of lobbyists.
Biotechnology is the use of living organisms or their parts to create useful products such as medicines, fuels and foods. Scientists use the methods of physics, chemistry and mathematics to gain precise knowledge at the molecular level about how biological systems work.
Biotechnologies revolutionized medical treatment with the discovery of penicillin and the eradication of smallpox, but the benefits go well beyond medicine. Crops engineered to produce their own insecticide reduce the need for chemical spraying, and biodegradable plastics made from plant matter cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Like all forms of technology, however, biotechnology can bring hard dilemmas. For example, genetically modified crops can escape into the wild and interbreed with local populations (potentially creating unintended ecological consequences). As a result, all biotechnology innovations must be carefully tested and regulated before they reach the marketplace.
Medical devices are critical to diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries. They can range from a simple tongue depressor or thermometer to an advanced robotic surgical device.
The development of new medical devices begins with physician or researcher ideation, followed by design and engineering. The new product is subject to animal testing and, if successful, may be moved to human testing.
The regulations that govern medical devices are complex and vary by region. They are generally separate from drugs, but there is some cross over – especially for in vitro diagnostic devices. Appropriate regulatory frameworks allow developing and emerging countries to contextualize global knowledge, support transparent and accountable decision making and promote health equity.
Health Information Technology
Health Information Technology, or HIT, is a broad term that encompasses the electronics systems that manage data about people’s health and healthcare. It includes electronic medical records for patients, electronic patient portals and personal health records, and telehealth.
These systems can also incorporate medical imaging software, such as PACS and VNAs, so that clinics can merge images previously stored in separate departments into a central hub. This allows for faster access and eliminates the possibility of misplaced files.
However, cybersecurity is a concern, as hackers have targeted healthcare sites with ransomware and malware. To ensure privacy, all IT professionals in the industry must understand cybersecurity best practices. Learn to record, integrate, and report patient data securely through classroom and practical experiences with specialized computer applications. Earn your A.A.S in Health Information Technology or complete a certificate program in Medical Coding or Medical Billing toward your degree.