Parisa Soraya was pursuing a Master in Health Informatics at the University of Michigan School of Information when she started wondering how to provide emotional support to those living with chronic illness. If only they could connect with others nearby who also struggle with their medical conditions on a daily basis, she thought, they may feel less alone.
While still at Michigan, she used her healthcare information management skills and founded a startup called Find Your Ditto to connect people living in the same community with the same chronic illness. The connection allows participants to provide each other in-person support to help confront the daily challenge of these ongoing conditions.
Soraya is now working hard with her co-founder to validate the concept, conduct pilots of the service, and eventually, bring it to communities across the country.
“Understanding the information systems and stakeholders involved with information technology, it’s the future of healthcare, and it’s something I think everyone needs to know to be a professional in the field," she says.
Healthcare is indeed going through a period of rapid digital change. Three-quarters of senior hospital executives say they feel digital advancement is vital—and at least 86 percent of office-based physicians and 95 percent of hospitals have adopted electronic health records (EHR) technology. Many are also using emerging options such as data analytics, telehealth, chatbots, and artificial intelligence tools.
Students who pursue a Master in Healthcare Informatics and Information Management (MHIIM) are at the forefront of this fast-changing field. But aside from leveraging these new-age tools, what can you do with this degree come graduation? More on that in just a bit.
MHIIM programs give students a comprehensive grounding in informatics and information systems as applied to healthcare. Many schools offer online programs and/or part-time options. Curricula covers topics like information science, behavioral science, cognitive science, operations, analytics, and systems analysis. Most MHIIM programs are designed to be completed in two years, though others may take shorter or longer. When you're looking for an MHIIM program, sure to go for one that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
Students who have an IT or other technical professional backgrounds will be prepared to excel in MHIIM programs. Students who have a bachelor degree in a technical subject such as information systems, computer science, analytics, or information management will be also ready to hit the ground running when diving into their master's program. Prior work experience in healthcare environments is helpful in getting admitted to and succeeding in these programs.
MHIIM typically programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree when they apply. Some programs require a GRE score while others do not. Some programs highly recommend that applicants have professional and/or research experience in clinical settings or in fields such as computing or information technology.
Graduates of MHIIM programs are highly in-demand in healthcare institutions such as medical practices and hospitals. They're also able to seek jobs in health IT startups, government agencies, and private sector corporations such as insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms.
Here are just a few employment options you can look forward to.
MHIIM graduates are well-positioned to succeed in jobs that involve implementing new technology and upgrading existing technology for healthcare institutions. These specialized IT project managers oversee scoping, budgeting, contracting, scheduling, and implementation of tech projects. They're experts at minimizing risks, troubleshooting, and reporting to executive leadership about progress.
Health IT project managers make excellent salaries, with median pay hovering around $142,000. Those in the top 10 percent of the pay scale for this field bring in more than $200,000. The job prospects for IT project managers are also good, with the field growing at 12 percent, which is almost twice as fast as the average for U.S. occupations.
A straightforward career path for MHIIM graduates is in medical recordkeeping, which is a role that requires overseeing the management of health information. As technology in the medical field rapidly changes, new opportunities are constantly cropping up for health IT techs, and career advancement can be rapid.
Health information technicians make a median salary of around $40,000, though pay can reach $70,000 for senior-level workers. With the healthcare sector growing quickly, the employment outlook for health IT is positive, with jobs for health IT techs predicted to grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026, or almost twice as fast as the average occupation in the U.S.
Medical facilities and healthcare systems often seek out management analysts who have healthcare informatics knowledge to learn how to best meet federal regulations, deliver care effectively, or make the most of resources. These healthcare consultants help institutions assess the promise of new technology and manage its implementation, recommend upgrades to networks and systems for compliance with government regulations, train employees on digital protocols, and troubleshoot problems in tech systems.
According to a salary survey conducted by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), healthcare informatics consultants earned an average annual income of $105,397 in 2012. ZipRecruiter concurs that pay in this profession is high, reporging an annual average income of $103,999 annually.
Those with a healthcare information management background can work their way into leadership roles in healthcare, especially as the field becomes continuously integrated with tech innovation. MHIIM graduates can set their sights on becoming a chief medical information officer, a chief operations officer, a chief safety officer, a chief innovation officer, or even a CEO. Health IT leaders can aspire to these roles in healthcare institutions as well as private companies such as device manufacturers and pharmaceutical firms.
The median salary for top executives in all fields weighs in at almost $190,000, and the top earners in the field are making more than $200,000. Bonuses and profit-sharing likely increase these income figures substantially. Job prospects for top executives are growing at a rate similar to the average for U.S. occupations.
An MHIIM degree provides an array of avenues for entering the fast-changing field of healthcare. Whichever route you take as a graduate, you'll be working in an environment where technological change is a driving force and tech-savvy professionals are highly valued—and thanks to you, illegible doctors' penmanship is a thing of the past.
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