Clinical informatics, the application of information technology within healthcare organizations and operations, is a wide-ranging field that includes and affects all health providers.
This new and growing field ensures the proper documentation of clinical information into databases, but also involves the design, implementation and maintenance of applicable IT systems to receive and process clinical data. With data collection specifically, clinical informatics helps organize patient information in a set structure that allows for efficient retrieval and placement in a medical report or evaluation.
Since 2013, clinical informatics has been recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties as a board subspecialty.
Clinical informatics can include a number of diverse subgenres:
Medical Informatics: Medical informatics has grown since the 1960s and 1970s to deal primarily with the advancement of a national electronic health record database, as supported by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Medical informatics can assist healthcare providers with a number of critical tasks, such as maintaining and sharing electronic patient records, tracking disease and public health issues, analyzing DNA sequencing and promoting the positive impact that IT advancements have had on healthcare overall.
Nursing Informatics: Nurses serve on the front lines of patient care. Through nursing informatics, they can oversee the integration of relevant and pertinent patient data into a central database to allow for real-time decision making at critical junctures by patients and healthcare providers.
Pharmacy Informatics: Patients often are prescribed medications to lessen pain and speed recovery. Pharmacy informatics is a critical component in the electronic chain of care that helps ensure the efficient and accurate disbursement of pharmaceuticals and other medications. As more healthcare providers transition to e-prescribing, the electronic generation of prescriptions that eliminates the traditional paper script, pharmacy informatics helps eliminate dosage, allergic reaction and other possible human reporting errors.
Nutritional Informatics: Nutritional informatics involves the documentation, organization, storage and use of pertinent food and nutrition-related information as it pertains to individual patients. This information can be used to discuss, track and problem-solve food issues, allergies, lifestyle and personal health and weight issues.
As more clinical informatics positions become available, the average salary for skilled workers continues to grow. In October 2016, the average salary for clinical informaticists was $70,861, according to Payscale.com.
To meet the qualifications for a clinical informatics job and be positioned to receive the best possible starting salary, interested applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree with plans to pursue a graduate degree in the field of health informatics, healthcare management or quality management.
Some schools, such as Jacksonville University, offer a Master of Science in Health Informatics degree, which can be obtained online and focuses on pertinent topics such as sharing information between healthcare providers, providing patients with easier access to their medical records, evaluating public health and contagious diseases in specific populations, health policy ethics and other related areas.