Health informatics, also known as medical informatics, encompasses the organization, analysis, management and use of health information.
Demand for qualified professionals in the field has dramatically increased. In May of 2015 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that demand for Medical and Health Services Managers is expected to grow 17% from 2014 to 2024.
These trends occur alongside an increase in electronic health record (EHR) implementation, indicating traditional healthcare roles involving paper workflow are being phased out.
Informatics professionals may specialize in consumer health, dental, mental health, pharmacy, nursing, telemedicine & mobile computing, primary care, translational bioinformatics, veterinary, clinical, clinical research and public health.
Occupational settings include clinics, hospitals, health systems, extended-care facilities, government agencies, academic institutions, consulting firms and private practices.
For the medical industry to fill the abundance of projected job openings, more students and working adults will need to shift their academic and/or career focus toward healthcare information technology, Michael Essany of the Digital Journal writes.
Advanced degrees are preferred in the field, as informatics professionals are facing increasingly complex challenges. Jobs also are becoming more sophisticated due to a growing need to document operational efficiency and medical outcomes. Entry level position requirements have increased and clinical expertise is required for high-level management roles.
Health informatics technicians are highly educated in information science and healthcare, and understand how to obtain, store and use a range of data about health and medicine. They fully understand computerized and non-computerized information systems as well as clinical guidelines, workflows and medical terminology.
The American Medical Informatics Association reports there are more than 70 advanced degree programs in the field, and most combine technical instruction with medical practice and on-the-job training.
Programming classes are often available to teach students how to build medical applications such as EHRs; other courses cover topics such as healthcare policy, patient privacy legislation and health economics. This education typically takes one to two years, depending on the institution and whether the student attends full or part time. Some schools, such Valparaiso University, cater to employed students by putting health informatics master’s degree programs, such as the MSHCA – Health Informatics, entirely online.
Master’s program graduates are likely to have many options when looking for work. Some available positions include Informatics Senior Associate, Informatics Analyst, Informatics Specialist, Clinical Informatics Analyst, Informatics Coordinator, Technical Support Analyst, Manager of Information Systems, and Health Information Technology Manager.