Health informatics may well be the future of healthcare. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are expected to grow 15 percent by 2024. This rate — considered much faster than average — gives an indication of just how important the marriage of medical records and technology has become in the digital age. For those seeking lucrative and rewarding professional opportunities, health informatics offers a multitude of career paths.
What Is Health Informatics?
"Health information" is simply a phrase meaning a person's medical data. The field of health informatics is responsible for working with this data in electronic form. As medical records become increasingly digitalized, health informatics allows medical professionals to use computer systems to analyze, track and protect patient information more effectively, for the ultimate purpose of providing a higher level of care. According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), health informatics consists of four basic areas:
- Nursing Informatics
- Public Health Informatics
- Applied Informatics
Each of these areas requires its own specialists and addresses unique medical needs.
Health Informatics Salaries and Job Descriptions
Below are just a few job titles emerging from this growing field.
*Median annual salary: $75,033
These professionals, using clinical experience, design and develop technology for nurses. Informatics nurses may be responsible for:
- Researching and developing methodologies for new technology systems
- Ensuring that all electronic documentation meets accreditation and privacy standards
- Communicating between medical staff and IT vendors
- Keeping technology up to date and accessible to medical personnel
- Identifying computerization needs for better patient care
Because the "informatics nurse" job title is relatively new, responsibilities may vary considerably.
*Median annual salary: $65,778
Clinical analysts are responsible for training end users to effectively use medical software and other technology. They work to help improve clinical practices and standards within information systems and help optimize their organization's workflow. Specifically, they may have duties such as:
- Maintaining, storing, mapping and analyzing medical data
- Coordinating with technology security teams to ensure HIPAA compliance
- Collaborating with medical staff to determine data needs
- Regulating practices and standards within their organizations and improving them where necessary
- Serving as a liaison between medical personnel and other relevant departments
Health Informatics Specialist
*Median annual salary: $60,913
Health informatics specialists are responsible for the general establishment and maintenance of health IT systems within an organization. Responsibilities may include:
- Ensuring that all technology systems comply with company policies, regulations and the law
- Researching and implementing IT systems
- Troubleshooting, testing and de-bugging
- Training employees
- Identifying problems with IT systems and developing plans for improvement
Clinical Informatics Manager
*Median annual salary: $91,568
Clinical informatics managers are leaders responsible for planning and overseeing information systems in health care settings. They are the link between IT and the end user, and they must work to ensure that clinical data is effectively translated into useful and accessible knowledge. Their responsibilities may include:
- Overseeing day-to-day operations of clinical information systems
- Improving the efficiency of information systems through planning, development and implementation of new technology or methods
- Working across departments to ensure that systems perform at optimal levels
- Hiring, training, supervising and developing staff
- Ensuring system compliance with all professional standards, as well as state and federal regulations
- Monitoring budgets
Ultimately, each of these jobs offers crucial support to medical staff, patients and the technology experts who interact with their work.
* According to PayScale
A Career in Health Informatics
For those seeking to enter an interdisciplinary field that directly impacts the health and welfare of others, health informatics can be an attractive option. The online Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Findlay can give students the expertise they need to excel in this exciting field. The program was ranked one of the top online programs in the nation by OnlineColleges.net and offers students the opportunity for hands-on experience before graduation.