Special

University Opens Up Personal Health Informatics Ph.D. Program

Doctoral programs like the one at Northeastern University will generate professionals who create technologies that save lives.

The Northeastern University College of Computer and Information Science is opening up a doctoral program in Personal Health Informatics, which is one of the subsets of computation science that is most important to telemedicine at large.

It’s exciting to see such a program, mainly because it illustrates the depth of the rigor and intellectual thought that’s going into how we can use computers to enhance medicine delivery. For example, here’s a quick overview of what this Ph.D. program emphasizes:

  • Assistive technologies that aid persons with disabilities;
  • Consumer wellness promotion technologies;
  • Patient education and counseling systems;
  • Interfaces for reviewing personal health records;
  • Advanced ambulatory monitoring for supporting health;
  • Automated eldercare systems that monitor health and support independent living; and
  • Social networking systems connecting families and their social and medical support networks.

As is clear by this list, personal health informatics professionals will be figuring out the technical, computational, and user-interface problems that will provide the backbone for telemedicine systems to come.

Personal Health Informatics Details
This field is highly interdisciplinary, which means it encourages broad minded thinkers who are not only technically capable, but also oriented around social and interpersonal dynamics and creative design.

They have to create the technologies that will help doctors monitor patients, help patients monitor themselves, and help the entire medical industry collect data and make sense of that data. And they have to make sure these technologies are intuitive to use for everyone involved.

A Testament to Telemedicine’s Prospects
The creation of an entire Ph.D. program devoted to Personal Health Informatics is a clear statement on how much importance this field will have for future medical pursuits.

Medicine in its entirety will be practiced using the technologies that these kinds of professionals engineer, even more so than they are already. The value of the service they provide can hardly be overstated.

For example, personal health records have the potential to be one of the most thoroughly useful and life-saving technologies we have when it comes to keeping track of a patient care. But they will only continue to be used more widely if we find a way to make them accessible to doctors, secure for patients, and easily deliverable to many different offices and locations. Doctorate degrees in Personal Health Informatics will help us do just that.