Health Informatics & Sciences

Is Health Informatics a Good Career?

Is Health Informatics a Good Career?
Health informatics brings IT, data science, and medicine together, providing outcomes and future forecasting that reduce errors, reduce costs related to healthcare, expand access to care, improve quality of care, and save lives. Image from Pexels
Courtney Eiland profile
Courtney Eiland March 24, 2022

Health informatics—the application of data analytics to healthcare delivery and business—is a rapidly growing field offering competitive salaries.

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The ascent of health informatics within healthcare practice has created new job opportunities that combine analytics, technology, and leadership. Whether you excel in one, two, or all three skill sets, if you’re looking to make a behind-the-scenes impact in healthcare, health informatics offers a good career choice.

Health informatics arose in the 1960s as patient data moved from paper filing to electronic systems. Fast forward to the twenty-first century, where health informatics, driven by information technology (IT) and medical progress, has improved healthcare delivery. As technology advances, healthcare professionals must remain current on the trends that will help shape the industry’s future.

The job outlook continues to look promising for a career in health informatics to play a vital role in patient care.l. This article discusses the following:

  • What is health informatics?
  • Is health informatics the same as medical records management?
  • 11 great health informatics careers
  • Starting your career in health informatics
  • Earn a Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is health informatics?

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) defines health informatics as “the science of how to use data, information and knowledge to improve human health and the delivery of healthcare service.” Informatics is a “multidisciplinary and integrative field [that] focuses on health information technologies (HIT), and involves the computer, cognitive, and social sciences.”

Health informatics brings IT, data science, and medicine together, providing outcomes and future forecasting that reduce errors, reduce costs related to healthcare, expand access to care, improve quality of care, and even save lives.

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Is health informatics the same as medical records management?

Medical records management is a part of health informatics, but the discipline involves a great deal more than record organization and maintenance. Whereas medical records management involves collecting, organizing, storing, and securing patient information, health informatics professionals (known as informaticians) analyze this data and identify trends that influence decisions to improve medicine. Health informatics also plays a behind-the-scenes role in implementing and managing information systems that store this data.

11 great health informatics careers

Health informatics careers are growing faster than average as more healthcare systems switch to cloud storage databases to sort, organize, and analyze patient data. Below are 11 different career paths to help guide you toward your next opportunity:

  • Chief medical information officer
  • Clinical informatics coordinator
  • Director of health informatics
  • EHR implementation specialist
  • Health informatics business analyst
  • Health informatics consultant
  • Health informatics data analyst
  • Health informatics IT project manager
  • Systems analyst
  • Privacy officer
  • Product manager

The job outlook is strong for health informatics professionals, as are salaries, particularly at the management level and above. Most health informatics roles consist of analytics, technology, or leadership functions, with some job titles requiring all three.

Chief medical information officer

A chief medical information officer (CMIO) is part of the senior leadership team or healthcare c-suite, where the one-two-three combo of analytics, technology, and leadership skills are essential for success in this role. CMIOs liaise with health informatics professionals and medical teams to communicate strategy, insights, and best practices based on findings and trends. The position of a CMIO also requires critical thinking, decision-making, and solid knowledge of how big data impacts patient outcomes. CMIOs take ultimate responsibility for staff, budgeting, and setting and achieving short- and long-term goals.

It’s a big job with commensurate pay. Payscale lists the average base salary just shy of $300,000. Salary range, however, varies by experience, education, and location.

Clinical informatics coordinator

Clinical informatics coordinators wear dual hats as their IT and analytical skills help them implement, manage, and provide technical training on information systems that help drive patient care initiatives. This supporting role, at times, requires certification as a registered nurse (RN. Duties include transferring paper documents and health information into electronic health records (EHRs), where accuracy is critical. According to Salary.com, the average range for this position falls between $81,805 and $105,463.

Director of health informatics

Whereas a clinical informatics coordinator plays a supporting role and a CMIO is in an executive leadership position, a director of health informatics sits somewhere in the middle. Responsibilities of a director of health informatics include:

  • Overseeing the infrastructure that stores patient data
  • Monitoring the latest technology trends
  • Providing recommendations to senior-level executives on best practices to ensure compliance and efficiency of health information technology

The salary for this position varies based on experience and employer. Salary.com estimates the average range falls between $154,455 and $190,325.

EHR implementation specialist

An EHR implementation specialist does precisely what their job title says; they implement digital systems to store and maintain electronic health records (EHRs) and ensure their efficacy. This role typically requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, and prior experience with information management systems. Glassdoor reports an average annual salary of $90,288, including bonuses, commission, and additional incentives.

Health informatics business analyst

A health informatics business analyst applies expertise in finance, in-depth data analysis, management, and research to analyze healthcare operations and business processes (e.g., coding, billing) and provide guidance on potential cost efficiencies. A health informatics business analyst can earn an average income of $87,660. This position is growing faster than average, with projected growth of 14 percent from 2020 to 2030.

Health informatics consultant

Health informatics consultants serve in short-term or long-term roles on ad-hoc projects that require a subject-matter expert to provide training or targeted focus on a specific initiative. This role is highly specialized in a particular area of study; it draws an average annual income of $79,524. Much like any consultant career, income relies on clientele, length of projects, certifications, and experience level. While a bachelor’s degree to perform the duties of this position is acceptable, a master’s degree in health informatics can sharpen a consultant’s expertise.

Health informatics data analyst

A data analyst draws a laser focus on all things related to statistics. In addition, the role of a health informatics data analyst requires analytical skills and communication skills to identify and explain findings that shape patient outcomes and predict public health trends. Although data analysts only need an associate’s degree to break into entry-level roles, those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree or certifications in related fields earn higher salaries. According to Payscale, entry-level data analysts earn an average salary of $57,288, while more experienced analysts earn up to $75,000 annually.

Health informatics IT project manager

Health informatics IT project managers implement and manage health information systems. In addition, they serve as the liaison between stakeholders involved and create and manage the scope of work to ensure accurate and timely deliverables on projects related to healthcare IT and IT systems. The average salary for a health IT project manager is $100,837.

Systems analyst

As more healthcare organizations switch from paper filing to digital storage, systems analysts are growing in demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts this position will continue to grow steadily with a projection of about 47,500 openings each year on average over the decade. If researching new technologies and testing and analyzing systems for functionality is of interest, then a systems analyst is a perfect match for a career choice. The BLS lists the median income for this position at $93,730.

Privacy officer

According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), all healthcare organizations must designate a privacy officer under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). A privacy officer needs an advanced degree in health information management or a related degree to fulfill the duties assigned. Their job function primarily includes:

  • Providing staff training
  • Ensuring their organization adheres to federal and state compliance laws
  • Investigating privacy violations and concerns

Payscale estimates the average salary of a privacy offer as $94,811.

Product manager

A health informatics product manager is responsible for managing production operations, maintaining a production schedule, and training staff on product usage. A bachelor’s degree and prior experience in the healthcare industry are prerequisites for this position. An advanced degree and a technical background are also preferred but not required. However, the salary range increases for more experienced professionals in this specialization. A product manager within the healthcare field can earn an average of $93,146 per year.

Starting your career in health informatics

The need for health informatics professionals continues to grow as technology advances. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, data science, or engineering can open the door for opportunities in the field of health informatics upon graduation. In addition, healthcare careers, especially those involving digital health, are in high demand as trends such as telemedicine, wearable devices, and cloud technology remain relevant and reliable. If you hope to ascend to the upper levels in the field of health informatics, an advanced degree can help.

Earn a Master of Science in Health Informatics

A Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) broadens your skill set and, as a result, your career options. The online MSHI program at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, for example, offers four tracks and four certificate options to home in on a specialization while pursuing your degree.

The four tracks include:

  • Data Science
  • General Health Informatics
  • Healthcare Supervision and Management
  • Registered Health Information Administrator

The four certifications available are:

  • Certificate in Health Data Analytics
  • Certificate in Health Information Cybersecurity
  • Certificate in Leadership in Health Informatics
  • Certificate in Revenue Cycle Management

Most master’s degree programs in health informatics can be completed in two years of full-time study; part-time study, obviously, takes longer. Online learning offers more flexibility for working professionals.

Health informatics careers show no signs of slowing down. An advanced degree in this field will offer even more opportunities to make your mark in this growing industry.

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