Thursday, February 28, 2008

In pharma, is Medical Informatics a field any technology geek can do?

As readers here know, I’ve written on the blur and confusion regarding the formal specialty of Medical Informatics in the pharma industry e.g., "Why Pharma Fails", "CRO's: We don't need medical informatics here", "We don't need medical informatics here Part 2" and "GSK, Avandia and Medical Informatics: More on Why Pharma Fails." I am also reminded how this problem, complicated by the conflation of IT and information science, cause the industry to suffer at both ends of the pipeline, that is, new drug discovery as well as postmarketing surveillance.

Seen recently in a Pfizer job ad for a Senior Manager, Medical Informatics:



The role of Medical Informatics team is to bring a deep understanding of technology in order to address Medical business needs. The successful candidate will be able to leverage technology insights and experience in order to provide solutions that balance opportunities for innovative ideas that drive top-line growth with a focus on operation efficiencies that drive bottom-line efficiencies/savings.


Ironically, one major research area of Medical Informatics is in terminology development, to help ensure expressive clarity.

I am only going to ask two questions this about that paragraph:

What the heck are they talking about?

and

Did the writer ever pass a course in basic English composition?

Here are the position requirements:



  • 5-8 years experience in technology related field.

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

  • Proven ability to deliver technology strategy and innovations that support business growth while still assuring operational excellence in support of existing systems and business processes

  • An operating style that is flexible, professional, and driven by individual initiative

Notably missing: biomedical background, professional degree, medical informatics professional training, and any knowledge of information technology in clinical or medical research settings.

Worse, it's likely the person(s) who wrote/approved the above tortured paragraph (a generously mild description) will also be evaluating the incoming applications.

In pharma, Medical Informatics seems to be an area any ol' technology geek (perhaps even semi-literate ones) can not just perform, but can also oversee as Senior Manager.

-- SS

6 comments:

Nick said...

Gosh, you'd think by now that you're not qualified to handle any IT job with your medical degree, research, project management and everything else. You might have to give up your dead end medical/IT career and go into marketing or work for Starbucks or something.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a sales position or a business analyst to me.

MedInformaticsMD said...

Nick said:

Gosh, you'd think by now that you're not qualified to handle any IT job with your medical degree, research, project management and everything else. You might have to give up your dead end medical/IT career and go into marketing or work for Starbucks or something.

It should be pointed out that the H.R. people who write such gibberish, and the leaders who approve the copy, are the same people who control the hiring of others.

Namely, those others who discover the drugs that you might have to one day drop down your gullet when your blood pressure is about to cause your cerebral arteries to explode, or when your high blood sugar is about to turn your body into Turkish Taffy. They also control hiring of those responsible for safety and monitoring of said drugs.

Reassuring, no?

-- SS

Anonymous said...

This sounds very much like the health/medical editorial positions at a major insurer (the person designated to write all of the 'health/medical information' and articles for providers and members, write up the performance measures and clinical guidelines, develop the online health information for PHRs, and write the company's 'marketing collateral').
The job description is typically written by the same person who oversees everything produced under the company's brand: a marketing/sales administrator. They don't want a medical professional to fill these editorial/communications positions, they want someone clueless (or corrupted) who will write what they're supposed to; it's all about marketing.

This job posting actually made total sense: they want a company yes-man who knows how to use communications to sell and coerce, and monitor and track, all to benefit the company's bottom line. Not to give accurate medical information, not information most important or beneficial for patients or providers.

Intelligent medical professionals with editorial skills and integrity need not apply.

Anonymous said...

This is biz speak for we want the cheapest guy who will toe the line. There is a belief in business that any computer person can do the job and the next Bill Gates is just waiting to be found by some lucky company.

I think you are also missing another important business point: companies do not want people who think. At 19, with a brand new AS degree in business, I was told repeatedly that I would not be hired as I was already too well educated. One person told me they did not want decision makers. Another told me I could learn the job in six months and then take over for him. After many rejections a sales manager, great guy, told me the reason I could not get hired was I would not buy into the corporate culture. Meaningless awards meant nothing, and I would quickly know more about the product than many senior managers.

Business today is all about driving profits, and cutting personnel cost is considered an easy way to accomplish this goal, even if the product or people, both customers and employees, suffer.

Steve Lucas

MedInformaticsMD said...

Steve Lucas wrote:

I think you are also missing another important business point: companies do not want people who think

Not at all.

I'm simply making fun of the fact that the "lack of desire for people of the mind" shows.