Health Informatics: Why is it Different from Other Healthcare Tech Degrees?

If you’re a tech whiz, there’s an emerging field of study that combines information technology, clinical practice and business management that might interest you. It’s called health informatics, and it’s all about how technology can improve the way health data are collected, stored, processed and communicated.

Health informatics programs are outnumbered by related programs that have been around longer, such as health information technology or health information management. Those tend to focus more on day-to-day management of patient and health systems data.

Here’s a breakdown of some other key differences among these fields, which are in high demand as health care providers scramble to modernize the way they track the care patients receive:

Health Information Technology
Typical Degree: Associate’s degree
Common courses Basic medical terminology, introduction to health services and information systems, health insurance and reimbursement
Jobs you might get Health record technician, clinical coder, data analyst, patient information coordinator or clinical coder, data analyst, patient information coordinator and health record technician
Job duties Process and maintain medical records, track patient outcomes, assign clinical codes for reimbursement and data analysis

 

Health Information Management
Typical Degree: Associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree
Common courses Information technology (medical records, coding, disease classification), health care systems (medical terminology, anatomy and physiology), people and processes (speech, communications, project management)
Jobs you might get Medical records manager, compliance officer, data quality manager, health information management director
Jobs duties Organize and manage patient data, code information for reimbursement and research, ensure compliance with governmental regulations

 

Health Informatics
Typical Degree: Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree
Common courses Information technology (network architecture, hardware-software integration), health care systems (informatics, health care organization, health care finance)
Jobs you might get Director of clinical informatics, health care chief information officer, health information systems manager, database analyst, systems analyst, nursing or pharmacy informatics specialist
Jobs duties Design and develop information systems that improve quality, effectiveness and efficiency of care

Sources: Programs at All Star Health Schools and others.

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