Doctors and nurses are the most visible workers in the health care system, but they would be the first to acknowledge they couldn’t do their jobs without support from workers in many other nonclinical roles. The people in behind-the-scenes health care jobs provide essential services that keep hospitals working around the clock. Here are some of the essential roles that health care industry workers fill and that patients rarely see.
Biomedical Engineers and Technologists
Modern health care relies on imaging equipment that gives doctors a noninvasive look inside the human body. Biomedical engineers and technologists design, operate, and repair this medical machinery, which includes dialysis machines, ventilators, and heart-lung machines as well as pumps and high-tech prosthetics. Trained technicians keep this equipment working properly, and biomedical engineers develop better, faster versions by performing research and developing practical applications that help patients recover from illness and injury.
Medical Records and Health Care Information Managers
Each patient is unique, and the information associated with their diagnosis and treatment must be organized, stored, and retrieved for doctors, nurses, and insurance companies. A subset of medical information management is the medical records technician, who may be responsible for interpreting medical information and for assigning the correct identifying codes. These codes are important not only for health care providers to receive payment from insurance companies, but also for research and public health records. The codes identify trends and patterns in the prevalence of disease, which is critical to monitoring and maintaining public health.
Network Engineers and Computer Scientists
Inside the walls, under the floors, and within the ceilings of modern health care facilities—especially hospitals—runs a river of cabling that provides instant Internet access and a world of information for doctors and nurses. Information technology professionals support quality health care by keeping the networks secure and the connections functioning. They select devices that will quickly process information and images when time is of the essence to help sick patients.
There are many different roles in medical laboratories—although most are not for people who are squeamish about blood and bodily fluids. Lab technicians perform diagnostic tests and analyses on blood, urine, and tissue samples. They use sophisticated equipment such as microscopes, centrifuges, and cell counters to provide doctors with crucial information about what’s going on within a patient’s body.
Patients may never meet the people filling these behind-the-scenes health care jobs, but they benefit from their expertise and hard work nonetheless.