Health and Tech

TEDxToronto 2012 Speaker Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, PhD PEng, Lead, Centre for Global eHealth Innovation

TEDxTO YouTube video showing the incredible possibilities of health tech


Tech is changing healthcare in incredible ways and it’s happening so quickly that new career mashups are being created every time tech takes a new leap forward. Already, innovations like wireless sensors are helping predict illnesses like heart attacks before they happen and new robotic technologies allow patients to move their artificial limbs using only their thoughts!

The creators of health tech advances aren’t geeky aliens. They look just like everyone else and come from educational backgrounds such as biomedical engineering, robotics or data analytics. If you want to be a part of the revolution in health and tech that is saving lives, you can choose from a wide range of in demand careers that mash up healthcare and technology.

Cool Health Tech

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion (a billion billion) bytes of data. And, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, according to IBM estimates.

In medicine, information available to help doctors make the right decisions is doubling every five years according to IBM. But in urgent life and death situations, medical personnel don’t have time to sort through a mountain of data. That’s why IBM is creating ways to apply artificial intelligence to Big Data in medicine through its super computer Watson who became famous when it beat human opponents on the TV show Jeopardy. Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform the quality and speed of health care by digging through large amounts of data at the speed of light to help doctors make more accurate diagnoses!

Telemedicine is another exciting area where a combination of tech like super-fast networks and robotics is having a huge impact, especially in providing specialist medical care to remote areas while saving the environment at the same time. For example, in Northern Labrador a tele-robot called Rosie the Robot brings doctors in distant cities right to patient bedsides by using video. Rosie also saves the high costs of transporting patients hundreds of miles just to talk face-to-face with a doctor.

Telehealth in Canada not only delivers improved care to remote areas but also helps the environment by eliminating 47 million kilometres of patient travel, equal to taking 2,700 cars off the road each year. By using the Internet and digitized health records, systems like Rosie enable doctors located anywhere in the country to provide care for patients in remote regions. Now, how convenient is that?

Tech is also creating possibilities to invent revolutionary digital implants such as a tiny implant that could detect heart attacks before they happen. In the future, such wireless implants will summon an ambulance to your house even before you feel any life-threatening symptoms!

The field of prosthetics is being taken to new levels by allowing people to control robotic artificial limbs using only their thoughts! University of Pittsburg researchers have implanted tiny electrode grids into the brain of a paralyzed woman. Now, she can manipulate objects and feed herself by moving her artificial limb with her thoughts.

Healthcare is also going through a mobile revolution with doctors using mobile apps to treat patients more effectively and apps to help people manage diseases like diabetes. Mobile industry analysts Research2Guidance estimates there are already 97,000 mobile health apps in 62 app stores with the top 10 of those apps generating up to four million free downloads each day. That means there is big demand for mobile app developers for both consumer and medical uses.

Cool Health and Tech Careers

Health and tech careers need professionals from different educational backgrounds so you don’t have to be a doctor to help change people’s lives for the better. Here are some examples of hot health and tech careers:

Network Managers are increasingly vital in so many areas of healthcare today, especially in hospitals where lives depend on digitized information about patients being available to healthcare providers. Network managers can’t let the network slip up even for a split second when lives are at stake!

Tech Project Managers are responsible for deploying new tech in a hospital or a doctor’s office. They have to account for all the details starting from budgets to usability and training to make sure everything hums to perfection in critical situations.

Health Informatics Analysts and Consultants are the champions of anywhere, anytime access to digital healthcare. Informatics professionals ensure behind-the-scenes computing technologies and communications networks provide flawless support.

Biomedical Engineering Technologists are the doctors of health tech. They respond to urgent calls to fix essential equipment like life support ventilators, anaesthetic drips or vital sign monitors. When not in emergency repair mode, these technologists perform routine checks to catch problems before they become life threatening or extend wait times for critical diagnostics like MRIs, CAT scans and mammograms.

Education Paths

York University offers a Health Informatics undergraduate program that highlights the importance of IT in the management and administration of healthcare systems. Do you want to work in health planning and development and learn how to research, collect, and analyze patient data? Then a career in health informatics is for you!

You can coming a computer science degree from the University of Toronto with two semesters in Bioinformatics at Seneca to get more hands-on computer applications and healthcare knowledge.

A degree in Biomedical Engineering from Ryerson University is a great choice if you want to combine engineering, biological sciences and medicine to invent new devices or improve existing medical procedures. Biomedical engineering leads to many career choices in health technology or you can add graduate studies to specialize in areas like prosthetics or brain simulation. Besides Ryerson, Carleton and McMaster now offer full biomedical programs. There are also biomedical streams at Queens, University of Toronto and University of Ottawa.

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.