Health Informatics

Health informatics is described by the National Institutes of Health as “the interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management and planning.” What all this means is that health informatics is a growing field where information technology intersects with healthcare communication and delivery systems. Far from being the old-fashioned “medical records” department, health informatics combines not only new technology but new ideas about how medical information should be shared between healthcare professionals.

What Do Health informatics Technicians Do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare case managers have the following job duties:

• Improve efficiency and quality of healthcare services
• Ensure compliance with laws and regulations in the healthcare industry
• Supervise other employees such as medical records technicians
• Manage patient billing in some cases
• Keep records on facilities and the services they provide
• Work with members of a medical team to make decisions about care for patients

Health informatics technicians may also install or supervise the use of software designed to store or share information among healthcare professionals about patients. New software systems are currently being designed and implemented by healthcare consortiums that allow them to share information across large groups so that pharmacists, doctors, and other healthcare providers can all access medical records instantly. Health informatics technicians are on the forefront of this new technology movement.

What Types of Degrees to Health Informatics Technicians Have?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most health informatics technicians have bachelor’s degrees in computer science, computer engineering, nursing, or a related field. If a nurse wants to major in informatics technology, he or she should take a minor or second degree in computer technology to secure the best jobs.

Some health informatics technicians begin with an associate’s degree. Some entry-level jobs require only a high school diploma, although these jobs will have very limited duties and much lower pay than most health informatics positions. Some health informatics specialists take master’s degrees in computer science or in business administration to secure top-level management positions.

How Much Do Health Informatics Technicians Make?

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list specific salaries for health informatics technicians, medical and health services managers are listed and have an annual median salary of $84,270 with a bachelor’s degree. Those who have a master’s degree or work with large corporations may earn higher salaries, as will those with more experience in the field of health informatics.

What is the Job Outlook for Health Informatics Technicians?

As healthcare shifts to outpatient and practitioners’ clinics and the government requires healthcare information to be uploaded on central databases, these jobs will become more prevalent. Companies, hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices will be searching for qualified individuals to manage their healthcare information systems and will want employees who are able to manage new software and technology.

Can I Specialize in Health Informatics Technology?

Some health informatics technicians decide to specialize in particular areas of healthcare. This is especially true if they work in a practitioner’s office or in a particular section of a hospital. For example, cardiac health informatics technologists gather information on cardiac patients, supervise the entry of this information into and its dissemination from a central database, and work with the cardiologists and general practitioners involved in the cases to decide on the best method of care for patients.

If you are talented with computers and enjoy learning how to develop and use software and programs, and if you have a strong desire to work in the healthcare field and help patients, health informatics may be the field in which you will find the most satisfaction. This field is especially appropriate for those who want to work in healthcare to help patients but do not necessarily want the hands-on contact that nursing makes necessary.

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