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Informatics: Combining the Needs of Healthcare and Technology

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Technology has always stood at the forefront of the evolution of healthcare. It is infused into how medical research is conducted, the equipment and devices that assist with different healthcare needs, and the computers and databases needed to maintain patient records and other medical data.

With the advancement of technology comes the need for workers who can navigate both the medical field and its technology. In fact, the Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates a projected growth of 15% in healthcare occupations from 2019-2029. This is faster than all other occupations combined and will lead to an estimated 2.4 million new jobs in healthcare. Many of these healthcare jobs fall into a new field called informatics.

What Is Informatics?

Informatics is a career field that marries healthcare and information technology (IT) so that healthcare organizations can better manage and secure health information. This field involves the ways that medical staff utilize medical equipment, patient record software or other medical technology. It also encompasses how companies build medical equipment and software.

Informatics is a general term that encompasses subcategories like nursing, health, public health, clinical research and medical research. Typically, informatics involves careers such as:

  • Nursing Informatics Specialist
  • Clinical Informatics Assistant
  • Medical Informatics Support Analyst
  • Informatics Specialist
  • Informatics Curriculum Manager
  • Health Informatics Analyst

This is a small sample of informatics careers, but a common denominator between these roles is the demand for specialized knowledge and skills.

What Qualifications Are Needed to Work in the Informatics Field?

Informatics roles require a background in a medical area such as nursing, as well as hard skills and education in health information management (HIM), informatics, information technology, or cybersecurity. People in informatics careers often start by working in the medical field and then obtain additional education in order to transition into the field of informatics.

Informatics also requires an in-depth knowledge of medical terminology and how various medical staff utilize technology. Here are some examples:

  • A nurse who adds medical information to a patient’s database record after a check-up
  • A surgical team member who notates the equipment and supplies used for a surgery
  • A dental hygienist who records fillings or crowns in a patient’s dental record
  • A staff member of the billing department who compiles data to bill an insurance company or a patient for a service

Some informatics roles may also require IT skills or expertise in health information management. Because these skills play an important part in developing new or updating current forms of technology, informatics professionals might also perform these daily tasks:

  • Translating content, information or ideas between the medical side and tech side
  • Shifting from a medical mindset to a technology mindset with ease
  • Employing quality control measures
  • Ensuring data integrity, user accuracy and system reliability
  • Developing implementation plans and post-implementation measures to support users
  • Ensuring coordination and compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) laws
  • Developing user training programs and materials

Researching the Informatics Field Is Essential

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in informatics, visit the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) to perform preliminary research. Be sure to check out the sections on careers and certifications to learn more about the informatics field, different areas within the industry, education and experience requirements, and career information.

Our university offers undergraduate and graduate programs that are related to this industry. Review the B.S. in health information management and the M.S. in health information management to determine whether or not one of these academic programs would suit you. Remember to research all requirements for the field thoroughly, as there are many components involved in it.

If you’re interested in a more tech-heavy role, consider a minor or certificate in IT as well as specific IT certifications, as they could help you acquire additional technical skills. If you’re unsure whether a certificate or certification is right for you, learn about their differences and respective benefits.  

Get University Support from Career Coaches and Academic Advisors When You Need It

The Career Services Department has industry-aligned Career Coaches who can assist with all aspects of career planning. If you need assistance piecing together the right career path for your goals, schedule an appointment with one of our Career Coaches today.

For academic support, contact your Academic Advisor to discuss program and course options that can best support your career plan.

Anna Sommer began her career at the university in 2007. She has worked in the Academic Advising Department and Student Services Department, and currently works as a Career Exploration Specialist in the Career Services Department. She thrives when working with students and alumni on career planning, researching industry trends, and developing career exploration resources. Anna holds a B.A. in English from Minnesota State University Moorhead, an M.S. in Adult Education from Kansas State University and an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University.

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