Informatics is about data, information, and knowledge existing in systems comprised of people, processes, and technology. In the relatively new field of health informatics, health informatics professionals strive to better interconnect healthcare information/knowledge systems with the people who deliver and receive healthcare in ways that improve their healthcare experiences. The nascence of this field provides those who are entering it now with the opportunity to help define health informatics as both a field of practice and knowledge domain.
Simply put, health informatics is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry worldwide. Only recently have companies begun to narrow the gap between health information and communications technology and medical care.
For those looking to enter this exciting medical field, in addition to understanding its dynamic nature, it is important to know that non-healthcare related jobs can offer quality preparation for a career in health informatics.
People who work in information technology (IT) should understand they have a foothold to understanding the broader scope of health informatics, an area where the design, selection, implementation, and application of technology to healthcare delivery is one of the cornerstones.
Health informaticians provide guidance to facilitate recognition and realization of value from the use of health information and communications in almost every aspect of healthcare delivery. Professionals who have built successful careers in IT but want to transition into the ever-expanding field of health informatics should be encouraged. Their technology background makes them strong candidates for a MSHI degree, experience that will be augmented and enhanced from the active learning experience that characterizes the Master of Science, Health Informatics curriculum.
Health informatics has a fundamental goal: making health data, information, and knowledge accessible for application to maintain or improve one’s state of health in terms of quality, effectiveness, and efficiency. Information technology backgrounds are a great starting point for entry into the MS HI program.
Communication is vital to health informatics. People with backgrounds in communication are in a prime position to contribute significantly to the field. The range of stakeholders, including patients, in healthcare delivery requires interactive communications to facilitate practices and decision making. Technology is playing an increasingly important role to enable interactive communications in a variety of healthcare delivery contexts where the communication is critical to health outcomes dependent upon the application of health knowledge, including research to improve healthcare.
Managers with health informatics roles are tasked with both traditional organizational roles that are highly dependent upon high quality communications as well as new responsibilities to facilitate the flows of health data, information, and knowledge that are critical to healthcare delivery systems.
Various Medical Careers
Many healthcare professionals are altering the course of their careers by moving into healthcare informatics. Top universities are now offering online MSHI degrees in programs that allow those already in healthcare the opportunity to study and learn online from anywhere while actively employed.
Professionals with clinical backgrounds are making the switch to healthcare informatics. The experience they’ve gained in various related healthcare fields provides them with the perspective to problematize healthcare delivery and the use of health information technology at the grassroots level. However, they may lack a strategic understanding of the healthcare delivery organizational enterprise, experiencing only their specific role or piece of the process. This is why they need a “big picture” perspective in order to understand the system.
Health informatics students with experience in medically-related fields may find that although there is much to learn specifically about health informatics, understanding the healthcare delivery and healthcare organizations from other points of view proves quite beneficial to broadening one’s perspective. The synthesis of technology and healthcare data provides a foundation for health informatics, and existing careers in medicine can benefit those looking to study health informatics.
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