What Can I Do With a Master’s in Health Informatics?

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A health informatics expert talks with physicians during a meeting.

Health informatics refers to the design, development, and application of information technology (IT)  innovations in health care services, from planning and management to delivery of care. It harnesses the power of modern digital computing to contribute to streamlined, efficient medical systems that are safer for patients and better able to meet their needs.

For anyone wondering, What can I do with a master’s in health informatics? an online Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) degree teaches students how computer science intersects with the health field and gives them the skills needed to design, develop and implement IT in patient care systems. Graduates with an advanced health informatics degree are in demand across various industries and may be employed by hospitals and other medical care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and government health agencies.

What Careers Can Graduates With a Master of Science in Health Informatics Pursue?

The various jobs available for those with an MSHI are diverse. An overview of potential positions, along with a description of expected duties and an idea of possible salary expectations, is provided below.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that workers in the health care field will increasingly find themselves dealing with electronic health records and health information exchange systems. Experts will be needed to design, develop and manage these tools. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of medical records and health informatics technicians will grow by 11% from 2018 to 2028.

Chief Medical Information Officer?

Chief medical information officers are high-level executives who oversee the construction, maintenance and updating of medical IT frameworks for entire organizations. Their duties include making decisions on which IT systems to use and signing off on the purchase of equipment and overseeing its installation. These individuals need an understanding of database design and programming, which enables them to recognize which IT frameworks are compatible with those already in place, for example. They must also be able to oversee organizational change to ensure the smooth integration of new systems. According to PayScale data from September 2019, the median annual salary for a chief information officer is $158,000.

Clinical Informatics Specialist

Clinical informatics involves transforming digital clinical data into a format that health care professionals like doctors and nurses can easily access and understand. A clinical informatics manager is responsible for planning and managing an organization’s clinical informatics computer systems, which collect and store such data. To do this, clinical informatics managers must be well versed in data mining and analysis, have knowledge of programming and database design, and also be able to manage complex projects. According to PayScale data from September 2019, the median annual salary for a clinical informatics specialist is $77,000.

 Clinical Informatics Director/Manager

Individuals who start as clinical informatics specialists may advance to director. In this role, they review the efficiency of current clinical informatics systems; propose improvements for streamlining them; and serve as liaisons with other departments, such as data quality and cybersecurity, to ensure coherence across their organizations. In addition to possessing the competences of a clinical informatics specialist, individuals in this role must further be equipped to lead. They must have a skill for strategic planning and also be able to provide comprehensive reporting regarding the IT systems they oversee. According to PayScale data from September 2019, the median annual salary for a clinical informatics manager is $91,000.

Director of Information Services

Directors of information services oversee the planning of their organizations’ IT needs. Their outlook is more big picture than that of clinical informatics specialists or directors/managers, as they are part of a senior administrative team that ensures an organization’s overall efficiency and profitability. The position involves overseeing IT system installation, implementing user training protocols and keeping a handle on IT budgets. Their core competencies are less technical — they don’t implement or install these systems themselves — and more leadership focused. Important skills include project management, strategic planning and the ability to make a case for leaders to invest in information services and keep up with the latest IT developments. According to PayScale data from September 2019, the median annual salary for a director of information services is $117,000.

Pharmacy Informaticist

Pharmacy informatics refers to the integration and use of technology and health data to streamline the medication use process, particularly in terms of replacing paper prescriptions with more accurate, traceable electronic prescription systems. The duties of a pharmacy informaticist may include implementing e-pharmacy systems, overseeing their management, supervising new employees in their use, and suggesting updates. These professionals need a thorough knowledge of the details of informatics, including database design, programming, and data mining. According to PayScale data from September 2019, the median annual salary for a pharmacy informatics coordinator is $80,000.

The Online Master of Science in Health Informatics

Those interested in one of the previously discussed careers should consider the University of Illinois at Chicago’s online Master of Science in Health Informatics. The curriculum is completely online, allowing for convenient flexibility. It covers industry-relevant trends including not only healthcare management but also useful government regulations and clinical trends.

Students are provided with the technical skills they need thanks to valuable courses such as the following:

  • Medical Terminology for Health Information Management. Learn the medical and pharmacological terms needed to understand clinical language, as well as how this specialized language is integrated into computer systems.
  • Health Information Systems Analysis and Design. This project course gives students hands-on experience applying theories used to analyze and design different types of health information systems. From modeling to implementation and subsequent evaluation of efficacy, the entire process is covered.
  • Ethics and Legal Issues in Health Informatics. Patient data is private and needs to be handled with sensitivity. Leaders in health informatics must know the laws and be familiar with potential ethical issues so that these can be avoided.

Additionally, course work, such as Management of Health Care Communication Systems, gives students the ability to take on senior roles, enabling them to advance to higher-paid positions. With a strong technical basis and the confidence to lead others, graduates are well equipped to climb the career ladder. Learn more about the online Master of Science in Health Informatics today.

Recommended Readings

5 Emerging Technologies and Their Impact on Health Informatics
How Will AI in Health Care Continue to Evolve?
The Role of Health Informatics in Preventing Errors in Health Care

Sources

Health Surveillance”
HIMSS, Health Informatics Defined
HIMSS, Medical Informatics
PayScale, Average Chief Information Officer (CIO) Salary
PayScale, Average Clinical Informatics Manager Salary
PayScale, Average Clinical Informatics Specialist Salary
PayScale, Average Director of Information Technology Services Salary
PayScale, Average Pharmacy Informatics Coordinator Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians