Employees in many sectors have long feared that digitalisation will eventually lead to a loss of jobs, or that it will make our lives more complicated, and that learning how to use information technology is difficult. I would argue that digitalisation has already been with us for a long time and that, in the healthcare sector, its main purpose is to assist and support healthcare professionals in their work. When information is easily available, or when repetitive tasks can be automated though the use of applications, there is more time for actual care work and consultation.
The ease with which the applications can be used and the provision of clear instructions are key in changing attitudes and reducing any unnecessary fear of IT solutions. At the Pharmaceutical Information Centre in Finland, we develop applications to support the work of physicians, care professionals and pharmaceutical experts, and we make every effort to take the user perspective into consideration at all stages of planning and development. We collaborate with a wide range of professionals in developing our applications and data packs, and continually adapt them for each customer’s needs. The feedback received from customers and end users helps us to create practical and user-friendly applications and data packs.
There is nothing to feel nervous or fearful about, because their purpose is to ease workloads, but never to replace human expertise. Their sole purpose is to support, speed up and rationalize the workflow and to assist professionals in their work.
Before my career as a software developer, I worked as a pharmacist in several pharmacies, and also as a hospital pharmacist. In these roles, I often faced situations where I would have needed a fast and reliable source of information and a reduction in the number of repetitive tasks. I felt that in monotonous, mechanical tasks, my skills and potential were partly wasted.
These are precisely the needs to which the application and software development work at the Pharmaceutical Information Centre aims to respond.
Learning together inspires us to reap the benefits of digitalisation
According to Statistics Finland’s Quality of Work Life Survey (in Finnish: Työ digitalisoituu), nearly every Finn uses digitalised applications at work.
However, many feel skeptical about them. The survey also revealed that women, more than men on average, feel that digitalisation has increased their work loads and the pace of work. Healthcare is traditionally a female-dominated field. What tools do we have to change these impressions?
The usability and clarity of the applications, as well as the help available and the time dedicated for familiarisation, play a crucial role. When working with hospitals, I noticed that positive changes occurred in attitudes when I provided the care personnel with proper guidance in how to use the new applications that would ease their jobs.
The aim of the “Mimmit koodaa” (“Girls write code”) campaign is to make programming and software more familiar to Finnish women of all ages. This initiative is a great example of how IT solutions become much more approachable when one can learn about their development in an encouraging and friendly environment. It would be very beneficial to organise information and training events for healthcare professionals where different applications and IT solutions could be explored together, where various cases could be pondered, and where any skepticism or fear concerning their use could gradually dissipate.
As a “Millennial” born into the Internet age with a natural curiosity towards new innovations, I have naturally had it easier than many others. I look forward to the future and all the exciting things we will be able to create to help healthcare professionals in their valuable work. Smart medicine cabinets, robotic solutions and the ongoing improvement of patient information systems represent great advances for our industry. I hope to spread my personal enthusiasm across the different fields of healthcare, so that we can join our efforts in creating new, progressive solutions that make work more meaningful and efficient. Digitalisation and various IT solutions already exist, and we now have the opportunity to harness them for the benefit of the healthcare system.
Text: Junior Software Developer Riina Moilanen, Pharmaceutical Information Centre