What is Health Informatics?

Health Informatics

At the intersection of data analytics and healthcare is the important field of health informatics. Also known as health information systems, health informatics improves patient outcomes by collecting, analyzing, and leveraging medical data. That data might include information from medical health records, diagnostic tests, medical scans, and even global outbreaks of viruses and disease. Altogether, the many aspects of health informatics streamline processes, create efficiencies, and improve patient care.

Why is Health Informatics Important?

Health informatics is critical in today’s complex healthcare systems, but it’s not new. In 2009, the government implemented the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which promoted the adoption of health information technology. The HITECH Act gave new life to the field of health informatics, and created the need for professionals who could collect, store, manage, and analyze medical data in a digital setting. The collection and analysis of medical data has many advantages:

Greater Access to Data

Through an online portal, all healthcare workers can access information they need to do their jobs and serve patients. Medical billers and coders can easily view data they need to submit an insurance claim or bill a patient. Doctors can share information about diagnoses and treatments, coordinating better care for patients and improving the practice of medicine for all.

Improved Accuracy

Gone are the days when a patient or healthcare professional had to decipher the illegible handwriting of a harried physician. With digital health information systems in place, medical staff can view notes and documentation online, reducing the chance of error.

Increased Patient Participation

Electronic health records make it easier than ever for patients to access their own medical information. This can empower patients and allow them to better communicate with their healthcare providers.

What Are the Different Types of Health Informatics?

Health informatics includes several specialties that target specific branches of healthcare. For example, nursing informatics uses data to improve caregiver practices and to provide better support for patients. Bioinformatics is the collection, storage, and analysis of biomedical and genomic data to develop measures for preventative healthcare. And public health informatics aims to mitigate disease outbreaks and improve prevention through the use of community-driven data.

The field of health informatics also overlaps with health information technology. Health IT is technology that serves the medical community. Health IT professionals safeguard important and confidential data including medical records. They develop systems and strategies to store and protect this information. Health informaticists, on the other hand, use data to identify patterns, problems, and preventative measures. Health IT and health informatics professionals can work together, but their jobs are different.

What Career Could I Have in Health Informatics?

Health Informatics provides many career opportunities. You might start as a health information specialist. In this role, you serve a hospital, clinic, or physician’s group. The data you collect and analyze would be shared with supervisors and administrators to help them make strategic decisions about the facility and patient care. Here are a few other jobs you could pursue:

Clinical Informatics Specialist

In this role, the data you collect and analyze could influence the processes and procedures within a clinic. You identify opportunities to increase efficiency and streamline workflows. You would also train personnel on how to work within data systems.

Health Informatics Consultant

As a consultant, you could work for one or more organizations on a project-by-project basis. You could also train employees on new technology and data storage procedures, and ensure the organization follows federal and state laws on data compliance.

Project Manager

You could also work to improve the workflows with the health informatics team. As a project manager, you would oversee projects related to health informatics from implementing new technology to using data sets to target specific medical conditions.

If you’re thinking about a career in health informatics, now’s the time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health information professionals is expected to increase faster than the average over the next decade. At Limestone University, we can help you prepare for this dynamic field with our Master of Science in Health Informatics degree. The program offers a multidisciplinary curriculum that supports both research-based and experiential learning. Click the button to learn more.

Two senior healthcare workers in consultation using laptopq
Master of Science (M.S.)

The mission of the Master of Science in Health Informatics Program is to provide students with a graduate education that will further their careers as leaders and innovators in health informatics.  The program supports its mission by offering a multidisciplinary curriculum that encourages both research-based and experiential learning.