Newly enrolled graduate students such as those in the University of Illinois at Chicago Master of Science in Health Informatics enter the program with pre-established healthcare backgrounds in fields such as nursing, pharmacy, information technology or data management. That said, the communications competency profile for graduate-level health informatics students represents a unique blend of knowledge, skills and abilities derived from a variety of disciplines, from clinical care to healthcare organization systems management.
Graduates of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s MSHI program can venture forth into the job market with a subset of skills crucial to discovering unique and rewarding career paths in one of the most rapidly evolving subsets of the healthcare industry.
Coursework such as “Communication Skills in Health Informatics” not only prepares graduate-level students with the necessary communication skills to succeed in health informatics and relevant fields, but also helps to hone the wide variety of unique communication strengths each bring to the program from their previous professional and academic experience.
There are virtually no fields within the healthcare industry that do not require sound interpersonal communication skills, and health informatics is no exception. Health informatics professionals must navigate varied workflows in both clinical, administrative and managerial realms through deft conversation, observation and conflict negotiation. Sound interpersonal skills go a long way toward creating increased productivity, effective time management, and creating a friendly environment for both patients and fellow team members.
In addition to an ability to ask relevant questions and grasp pertinent details, health informatics professionals must also possess the capability to explicate detailed workflows and processes efficiently, be it to patients themselves, fellow team members or to staff members which they supervise. Many health informatics professionals help to troubleshoot and assist problems faced by system users, or assess the needs of clinical staff in order to develop new efficiencies in informatics workflows.
As health informatics grows in both scope and influence, the need for sound analytical skills is increasingly necessary among new professionals in the field. In addition to possessing the ability to both inspect certain processes and offer solutions for improvement, healthcare informatics professionals must also have the ability to offer objective analysis of data while remaining on the lookout for potential trends and fluctuations.
The vast range of systems and information relevant to positions in the health informatics field also requires professionals to stay focused on a singular task and prioritize multiple tasks, be it their own or those in their management purview. Sound analytical skills are also crucial in identifying deficiencies in informatics standards and developing plans to improve processes.
Leadership & Organizational Skills
Many graduate-level health informatics professionals go on to pursue management-level roles in both clinical and commercial healthcare environments. Charged with hiring, training and managing staffs of informatics professionals, creating and adhering to organizational budgets, and monitoring compliance with local, state and federal regulatory standards are all tasks common at the managerial level of healthcare informatics. Leaders within the field of health informatics must also work to establish quality relationships with other leaders in the field, not only as an avenue for partnership, but also to stay in tune with organizational needs and new developments within the field, and, most importantly, to ensure the best possible delivery of healthcare services.
Health Informatics: Emerging Professions
The quantity and scope of the health informatics profession is one of the most rapidly evolving in the entire healthcare industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical and health services managers, executives and administrators is projected to grow 20 percent within the next decade in the United States alone. Positions relevant to health informatics are growing not only due to the rapid expanse of the field, but also due to an increased demand for healthcare services as those from the baby-boom population age and remain active later in life. There are several emerging professions in the health informatics field which have a particular reliance on sound communication skills.
Nurse Informaticians and Chief Clinical administrators and Healthcare Business Analysts often find themselves at the forefront of health informatics initiatives in both clinical and business settings. Their roles often include staff training, new systems integration and the facilitation of communication between numerous vendors, from information technology specialists to hospital staff.
The availability of a variety of management and executive-level positions is expanding as a result of the emergence of health informatics in healthcare. Roles such as Clinical Informatics Manager to Chief Information Officer, Chief Population Health Officer, and Chief Innovation Officer require a broad range of communication skills related to business and organizational management. These executive-level positions are often charged with directing large staffs of professionals, resolving internal and external conflicts, fostering cooperation and team-building, and providing supportive leadership to a diverse group of health care professionals working in an array of disparate disciplines.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a clinical informatics manager is around $92K annually, with a reported salary range of $59K to $127K per year depending on experience and managerial background. Those with nursing informatics, project management, and clinical information systems skills reported average salaries of $94K-$100K annually. As the need for qualified and experienced health informatics professionals continues to grow, so too are the expected salaries, particularly those at the management/executive level.
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