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Health Informatics: Dealing with mountains of healthcare data

Ambitious clinicians, executives, technology professionals, and healthcare industry professionals often consider advancing their careers into a management role via the rapidly expanding field of health informatics.

Health informatics is a multidisciplinary field whose specialists come from a mixed background of clinical, technological, and financial backgrounds. As a result, the entry point into health informatics can be quite varied, with doctors and nurses coming from the clinical field, software developers and Big Data scientists from the technology sector, and business professionals from the finance area.

But, there are some common traits that can be found in this multidisciplinary field, according to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Health informatics professionals spend their time gleaning mountains of data and information from a variety of sources and then use technology to analyze the data and take appropriate actions, according to the AHIMA report.1

“Having too much data may be worse than not having enough when it comes to making strategic healthcare decisions,” the AHIMA report noted. “Health informatics enables health information management professionals to gather and analyze large amounts of data into useful information. It’s poised for a period of rapid growth and expansion as the healthcare industry continues to evolve and produce an increasing amount of yet-unharnessed data power.”

Healthcare professionals interested in pursuing a health informatics career should be comfortable with reviewing large volumes of data. Having analytical knowledge is a big advantage in this field. Although health informatics professionals do not necessarily need to code software, or even to have any experience in this area, it doesn’t hurt to have an interest in technology.

The nation’s move to electronic health records is one way that health informatics is getting involved in a big way with the broader concept of making healthcare more efficient, according to health information technology supplier Cerner.2

According to the AHIMA report, positions such as registered health Information technician, medical transcriptionist, and data entry specialist require an associate of arts degree. Informatics nurse specialists, system data analysts, and registered health information technicians usually need bachelor’s degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees may explore a master’s in health informatics, epidemiology, or statistics.

A master’s degree in health informatics may allow a graduate to jump on the rapid growth that this industry has experienced so far and is expected to see in the years ahead. In 2013, the healthcare business intelligence market carried an estimated value of $2.38 billion, with expectations that it would rise at a compounded annual growth rate of 14.8% over the next five years,3, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

The University of Scranton offers an online Master of Science in Health Informatics program. The program is geared toward providing uniquely interlinked tools to engage in computer science, information systems, communication, and leadership. To find out more, speak to one of our Program Managers by requesting information or calling (866) 373-9547.

Sources:

1 AHIMA Work Group. (2014).  Defining the basics of health informatics for HIM professionals" Journal of AHIMA 85(9) 60-66. Retrieved from http://library.ahima.org/doc?oid=107443#.V75Z6LUnuwo
2 Cerner (n.d.). Strategic innovation in health care, for today and tomorrow. Retreieved from http://www.cerner.com/About_Cerner/
3 MarketsandMarkets. Healthcare Business Intelligence (BI) Market by Function, Application, Technology, End User - Trends & Global Forecasts to 2018. May 2014. Retrieved from  http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/healthcare-business-intelligence-market-252368925.html