With the healthcare industry embracing a number of technology updates, careers in health informatics are growing rapidly. Healthcare employers are looking for professionals who can help their facilities employ electronic health and medical records. There are many job titles that fall under the healthcare informatics umbrella. Here are some of the field’s top career options:
What do Health Informaticists Do?
Health informatics is an extensive field, and those in this profession work in a variety of environments. For instance, many work in hospitals, clinics, group practices or skilled nursing facilities. In most of these settings, direct patient care is delivered. Yet the type of patient care can vary greatly, ranging from preventative care to treatment of illnesses or end-of-life care. Professionals in this occupation work among medical staff including doctors, nurses and other care providers. Typically, health informatics professionals do not work in conditions where they must provide direct patient care. Instead, they work with managers to establish policies and procedures that are formulated to improve the quality of patient care, such as meaningful use. They may also work with IT professionals to develop, test and improve computer databases, and often train other staff members on information management policies and computer systems. Since many healthcare facilities are open 24 hours every day, healthcare informatics workers will have to work some weekends, nights and holidays. Group practices, outpatient facilities and similar work settings offer a more standard work schedule, with regular working hours Monday through Friday.
What to Expect from the Day-to-Day Work
Regardless of the organization with which the health informatics professional works, their duties will take them into different environments, including nurses’ stations, patients’ rooms, doctors’ offices and information technology departments. Careers in this field are a great fit for those who are interested in both technology and the healthcare industry. Health informatics offers a wide variety of opportunities for professionals, with work settings and job duties changing every day. Health informatics professionals stay busy with a range of tasks during a typical work day. Job duties typically include the following.
- Analyzing data to help facilitate decisions and actions
- Developing data-driven solutions to improve patient health
- Collaborating with other departments in the healthcare system to reduce expenses through strategic data analysis
- Designing and implementing tools to measure data, patient care effectiveness and processes
- Facilitating the communication and translation of regulatory and IT requirements between departments.
Merits of Health Informatics
Professionals in the health informatics field have the chance to directly impact the well-being of the industry even without providing direct patient care. They help improve the quality of healthcare and have a direct influence on patients and their families. Often, health informatics workers spend time talking with patients and family members in order to understand their conditions and to gather pertinent information. They also improve healthcare systems by ensuring they are interoperable. By gathering this information and sharing data with doctors, nurses and other staff members, health informatics professionals help patients reach better outcomes. Sometimes, healthcare workers undergo a great deal of physical and emotional stress, particularly those who work in emergency or intensive care units. Health informatics specialists, however, can avoid these stressors while still making a positive impact on patients. Accordingly, it’s a great career option for those who want a low-stress work environment, as health informatics professionals often work in an office setting within a healthcare facility. This field is also great for those who want to have a variety of job options. Choosing a career in health informatics doesn’t limit you to one job description or one work environment. Instead, professionals in this field can work in healthcare, government, corporations or colleges. Those who work in healthcare facilities can even choose what setting they prefer: hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics or labs.
Education Considerations for Health Informatics
The highest level of education for this field is a master’s degree in health informatics. If you want to be prepared for the best jobs, then earning a master’s degree is recommended. HICareers.com states that one out of three healthcare employers regards a master’s degree in health informatics as more beneficial than any other graduate degree. Professionals who earn a master’s degree from a credible school can gain the knowledge that will help them prepare for the challenges they will face on the job. They will be equipped to make a positive impact on the healthcare system as a whole and help improve patient outcomes.
Tips to Help Further Your Career in Health Informatics:
Earning a degree and receiving hands-on training is essential for careers in health informatics. But if you want to go above and beyond, here are some valuable tips to make yourself stand out:
1. Network With Healthcare Professionals During your time in school and training, you’ll meet instructors, school staff and fellow students. Any of these people could be a connection in the future, and it’s smart to build relationships with them, as an article on the Arizona Medical Training Institute website titled “Networking Tips for Healthcare Professionals” explains. Another good option is to get involved with a medical or healthcare specific networking group.
2. Keep Up With Policy Because politics does affect the healthcare industry, health informatics professionals should be up-to-date on current policies, according to the article “Healthcare: A Rapidly Changing Industry,” on the Roseman University of Health Services website. Immerse yourself in the national and state laws and regulations that affect the healthcare system and healthcare professionals.
3. Get Involved in Charitable/Altruistic Activities Dedicating your time to serving others through volunteering is one of the top ways to obtain on-the-job experience and cultivate a network, according to “Volunteering for Career Development: Seven Steps to Professional Growth, an article by Lori Gottlieb on the Charity Village website. It’s also a great way to show employers that you care for your community and the healthcare industry.
4. Define Your Career Path To move toward a distinct career path, it’s important to define your personal goals and objectives, according to “Tips for Defining Your Career Objective and Career Goals,” an article on the CV Tips website.To do so, you should assess what you like to do, determine your top interests and consider what you’d like to learn on the job. Once you pinpoint your goals and objectives, you can put them into a couple sentences to add to your resume.
5. Dedicate Yourself To Lifelong Learning Choosing to be a lifelong learner will allow you to grow and advance in a competitive job market. As Professor Lisa Marie Blaschke writes in the article “Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning,” published on the website of The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, lifelong learners often have the ability to effectively and creatively apply their knowledge and skills to a wide variety of new situations. Self-determined learning is especially important in distance education, where the student must utilize autonomy and self-direction to achieve success.