What is Health Informatics?

Health InformaticsHealth Informatics is a buzz phrase in many health fields, but exactly what is Health Informatics? Health facilities and medical professionals continue to move towards more technology-based practices in everything from maintaining medical records to patient care. This trend accelerated with the introduction of new electronic records requirements on facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds. With these changes, increasingly more workers will be needed to manage the data and systems necessary for facilities to run securely and efficiently. In the center of this growing industry are health information professionals.

Overview

Health Informatics involves investigating and managing the application of communication and computing technology in healthcare. Health information professionals work in all areas of health, from traditional facilities like hospitals and doctor’s offices to academic and biomedical research. These professionals work in various aspects of technology from designing information system to maintaining and optimizing health data and software.

Career Choices

When approaching the question of what is Health Informatics, it’s important to look at the potential career options in the field. One of the primary benefits of pursuing health information is the number of options you have after graduation. Professionals with a degree in Health Informatics find jobs as health information technicians, consultants, nursing informatics specialists, medical coders, medical records technicians, IT project managers, chief information officers and more.

Education and Training

With the growing need for professionals in the field has come an explosion of college programs focused on health information technology at the community college, undergrad and graduate level. Different positions require different levels of education. At the associate’s degree level graduates can find entry-level employment, typically assisting health information managers in analyzing and assembling patient data, as well as may specialize in areas like coding. Undergraduate level professionals qualify for positions that manage medical information, including administering computer information systems, analyzing patient information and managing information departments. Graduate level training provides the unique opportunity for even greater specialization, allowing information professionals not only to manage information systems, but also learn how to build and develop systems. Those with graduate level credentials also are more competitive for positions in executive management and administration.

Certification

Many positions in the health information field require certain certifications. The two most common are Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), with the main differences between the two being education level and test difficulty. Medical Coding certifications, such as Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA) are also common.

Related Resource: Nursing Job Profile

Salary

Salary varies in the Health Informatics field depending on factors like job title, location, experience and education. For example, medical records and health information technicians make a median salary of $34,160 per year, according to statistics from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.┬áInformation technology professionals who work in medical and health systems management make a median salary of $88,580 per year.

The medical industry is expanding at an exponential rate. With that in mind, asking yourself what is health informatics and determining whether the field is right for you could potentially land you a job in one of the most financially secure and growing fields in the nation.