The rapid emergence of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the most visible sign of the increasing role of technology in health care delivery. But the convergence of data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and machine learning is having profound impacts across the life sciences industry, with huge implications for workforce development.
Louisville, Kentucky, home to Humana, Norton Healthcare and Kindred Healthcare, is known as the “aging care capital of the world,” according to Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, outgoing chief of Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development partnership. Greater Louisville’s aging-care companies alone employ some 21,000 people.
Due in large part to Louisville’s emergence as a life sciences center, Microsoft is working with the city to help establish it as a regional hub for data sciences, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things. The center of the effort is the Future of Work Initiative, powered by Microsoft, which aims to boost Louisville’s technology workforce with free classes in data analytics, digital marketing, software engineering and user experience design.
“The strength we have in our health care economy really appealed to Microsoft,” Wiederwohl says. “It’s a big reason they identified us.”
The Future of Work Initiative is teaming with Louisville businesses and with nonprofit, education and startup organizations to upskill the health care workforce. Its partners include Humana, the University of Louisville, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and General Assembly, a national provider of upskilling programs.
“As it applies to health care, in particular, we are working with health care providers and health insurers to strengthen their workforce to help them prepare for the upcoming data revolution,” says Alisia McClain, director of community and education initiatives for the Future of Work Initiative. “And we’re working with educational institutions to ensure that they know this revolution is coming and that there’s going to be a much higher demand for people who are skilled in data science.
“Access to huge swaths of data is what makes telemedicine possible,” McClain says. “It helps us to make better health care decisions. Our job at the Future of Work Initiative is to work with industry to see how these technologies can be used to bolster their productivity and to take them into a more innovative place in their company, and then to increase the workforce around data science.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the partnership among Future of Work, Humana, the Louisville Healthcare Council and General Assembly established the COVID-19 Reskilling Initiative, a program of free, online tech training courses that served some 4,000 applicants during the month of April, which prompted a second phase of instructor-led trainings aligned with career paths in the data economy.
“In this moment of crisis, we’re seeing an interesting trend of public-private partnerships in the arena of upskilling,” says Jay Nappy, technical learning designer at General Assembly. “The work we’re doing in Louisville, with Humana leading the way, is a perfect example of that. Louisville is an example of a smaller market that’s in the midst of a tech transformation and having labor challenges associated with that.”
In October 2020, the University of Louisville announced that it will develop a curriculum to increase cybersecurity talent, specifically focused on health care, thanks to $6 million in funding from the National Security Agency. The pilot phase of the Healthcare Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate initially will provide the training for 200 first responders and military veterans. The certificate is to incorporate technology industry badging from Microsoft, IBM and Google as well as hands-on applied learning and gamification components.
“We understand the need for cybersecurity talent in our health care workforce to protect the information systems that patients, providers and payers rely on to deliver quality health care,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “We are excited to provide this exceptional opportunity for students to advance their future career opportunities with cutting-edge skills in a short, six-month time frame, while increasing security for health care data in Louisville and beyond.”
UofL will lead the curriculum development and pilot the online program through its Center for Digital Transformation, working with a coalition three other institutions. The project also includes $300,000 in funding for research into security biometrics.