What Is Accreditation, and Why Does It Matter for You?

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Students walking on UIC campusWith so many colleges and universities active in the U.S. and around the world, it’s worth considering how all departments hold to consistent and high standards. The answer involves accreditation, the process of approval by field-specific organizations overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. In the present era of easily accessible courses held 100 percent online, accreditation can signal to prospective students that a school’s degrees will hold value with potential employers.

When considering a health informatics degree, the relevant accreditation institution is the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. Working through the CAHIIM process for approving health informatics master’s programs can demonstrate the value of accredited coursework and the resulting degrees.

What Does CAHIIM Require?

The official CAHIIM definition of health informatics specifies that students should be educated in three general areas. The first of these is health, as working in a medical setting requires individuals to grasp the unique systems and practices associated with that world. The second topic is information science and technology. The hardware and software used by today’s health care organizations are sophisticated and ever-evolving, and using them must be second nature for informatics professionals. Finally, students must also learn social and behavioral science to help them work successfully in their complex post-graduate roles.

Programs approved by CAHIIM need to be subject to evaluation and quality measurement over time. The accrediting body looks for academic institutions that will maintain high standards of performance and focus on continuous improvement. Annual documentation and reporting of improvements are some of the conditions of being accredited.

On a practical level, accredited health informatics programs have to possess a defined authority structure, be led by someone with a doctoral degree and have enough faculty members to ensure students are sufficiently educated. These teachers must have their own qualifications and be assessed for effectiveness over time.

Not only does CAHIIM require courses to focus on furthering students’ informatics learning, but the agency also demands that all accredited programs remain up-to-date in their teaching. This acknowledges the evolving nature of health informatics. Such a technologically dependent field will necessarily change as computing resources become more powerful, and programs must not let their courses fall behind the times.

The use of technical solutions extends beyond the duties health informatics graduates will be expected to perform and impacts the way they consume educational information. Online courses have become more common, and CAHIIM wants to ensure these courses’ delivery methods are up to par. The organization requires full access to accredited institutions’ digital class content to verify their quality.

Why Study at the University of Illinois at Chicago?

The UIC Master of Science in Health Informatics program is accredited by CAHIIM, and the school itself has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. With the program being part of the largest medical school in the country, students pursuing their health informatics degrees gain access to knowledge and insight from a faculty of focused and informed instructors with insider knowledge of the modern health care industry.

Online learning can be a great answer for a professional who wants to shift his or her place in the health care sector without leaving their current role to attend courses on campus full time. While the first online college courses were separate from traditional education institutions, today’s environment is different. Accredited universities such as UIC have opened their doors to online students, and due to CAHIIM’s insistence on inspecting digital courses, pupils have third-party assurances that they’re getting a worthwhile education.

Receiving a master’s degree in HI can lead to exciting new roles in medical technology departments. Companies may be looking at these graduates to set their strategic priorities going forward. In an era when the real advantages and possibilities of great tech-infused health strategies are becoming clearer, the need for visionaries with up-to-date knowledge of industry practices and potential tech tools is similarly evident. Learning online allows individuals to gain the necessary knowledge while staying engaged in their current positions.

In an era defined by technology, with everything from patient outcomes to overall efficiency hinging on new deployments, informatics may be a winning skill to have on a resume. When potential employers see applicants have studied at a CAHIIM-accredited institution, they’ll know the types of skills and knowledge those candidates have accumulated over the course of their studies.

The path to the future of the health care industry may run through HI and related disciplines. To find out more about this thriving field and begin your path to a health informatics degree, check out the UIC Health Informatics programs.

Recommended Readings:

Who Should Pursue an MSHI Degree?

HI vs. HIM: What’s the Difference?


2017 Health Informatics Accreditation Standards, Masters Degree, CAHIIM

FAQs about Accreditation, U.S. Department of Education

Leading the Future of Healthcare IT, University of Illinois at Chicago