What is health informatics? Health informatics is a term that describes an activity related to the merger of information technology and healthcare documentation. New federal laws require that healthcare providers manage patient records in electronic form and on a secure network. Due to these requirements, those who specialize in health informatics are in high demand.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health informatics is expected to grow at a rate of 15 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than average. People with a master’s degree in health informatics will be urgently needed to manage this growing workforce. Within the next five to seven years, it is estimated that 50,000 health informatics workers will be needed.
In order to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a career in health informatics, you need to consider the various disciplines required in this field and the job responsibilities you will be tasked with depending on your title and in what specific healthcare setting you work. Gaining a strong understanding of what is required to be a successful health informatics professional will enable you to determine if it is the right career for you.
Is a Career in Health Informatics Right for You?
Your first consideration when it comes to a career in healthcare informatics should be the level of education required in order to break into the field. Earning a degree in healthcare informatics (or healthcare information technology) is often the best way to enter the field, but the type of degrees you can earn can vary widely. Some positions that fall under the general heading of healthcare informatics, such as healthcare information technician, require only an associate’s degree, whereas others, especially those in management, require advanced degrees.
While obtaining an education in healthcare informatics, you will be tasked with studying a variety of professional disciplines, including business, management, information technology and systems, medical image processing, organization and sociology, medical coding, and health information management.
Your healthcare informatics education will also prepare you to assess the way in which software is constructed and linked, which is known as health information systems architecture. This architecture provides data storage and allows healthcare professionals to retrieve and use information to make informed decisions about patient care. Other areas of informatics study include security, confidentiality, and ethical and legal issues associated with electronic medical records.
Health Informatics Job Responsibilities
Health informatics specialists tend to have different job titles depending on their level of experience, background, and type of organization they work for. Some of these job titles include chief medical information officer, health informatics consultant, health informatics director, nursing informatics specialist, electronic medical record keeper, healthcare IT project manager, systems analyst, chief knowledge officer, terminology asset manager, data quality analyst, health care informatics analyst.
With each of these job titles comes specific responsibilities. For example, as a health informatics consultant, you will be tasked with ensuring that healthcare facilities meet federal mandates while keeping employment overhead costs low. Most likely, you will also be asked to complete other tasks, including updating networks, installing software, monitoring systems and troubleshooting, and training teams.
On the executive level, a health informatics director combines technology knowledge with people skills in order to integrate and organize the flow of data across different divisions. You will be responsible for training teams on new technology and meeting with stakeholders and constituents such as physicians, nurses, and pharmacy staff to roll out technological protocol changes.
As chief medical information officer, your ultimate goal is to create an effective and efficient flow of information and construct IT systems that support high quality patient care across multiple information systems. Other job responsibilities at this level include conducting data analytics to improve IT infrastructure, designing and applying software applications, and training software development teams.
Becoming a health informatics specialist can be a rewarding career, especially considering the high demand for people who are knowledgeable in the design, development, adoption, and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management, and planning. If you are organized, have solid business savvy and possess strong leadership qualities, health informatics might be the right career for you.