Health informatics involves acquiring, storing, and using healthcare and patient information. Since the majority of gradate certificate programs are tailored for working professionals, many of the courses are offered online or on evenings and weekends. These programs usually consists of four to eight courses and can often be completed in one to two years. Alternatively students may pursue a master's degree in health informatics.
For both program types, applicants must have a bachelor's degree. Those with a degree outside of the healthcare field must show evidence of familiarity with medical terminology and basic healthcare procedures. Other requirements include letters of recommendation, statement of intent and a current resume. Standardized graduate test scores are rarely required for health informatics programs.
Health Informatics Graduate Certificate
These programs are designed largely for working healthcare professionals seeking to increase their knowledge of medical information systems. The coursework emphasizes topics, such as utilizing information systems to improve patient care, and creating and implementing new health informatics systems in a complex organization. Some programs offer supplemental coursework for those approaching the program with no healthcare experience. Below are some sample class titles:
- Genomic technology
- Research and information ethics
- Clinical information systems
- Healthcare computer systems
Master's Degree in Health Informatics
These interdisciplinary graduate programs train individuals for leadership positions in the biomedical and healthcare informatics field. Degree candidates learn how to manage information and information systems in order to improve healthcare delivery, minimize cost, and identify and analyze disease trends and developments. Nearly all of these programs feature a graduate research thesis as a degree requirement. This research thesis will analyze a particular aspect of health informatics, such as technology and patient data privacy or healthcare system security. In addition to the core informatics curriculum, degree candidates also enroll in healthcare and information management electives, allowing candidates to tailor their studies to further explore research interest. Common course topics include:
- Clinical data acquisition
- Database management
- Environmental health
- Research methodologies
Popular Career Options
Jobs can range from health information technician to health information manager, and each of these positions involves a different level of skill and IT knowledge. Candidates studying health informatics in order to pursue careers such as chief medical information officer will most likely need to continue their education. However, there are still plenty of career opportunities for those at the certificate level. Below are some sample job titles.
- Health information technician
- Health management policy consultant
- Systems application analyst
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment increases are expected from 2014-2024 for medical records and health information technicians, as well as for medical and health service managers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Technicians are projected to experience 15% growth in jobs, while managerial positions should increase by 17%. The rise is linked in large part to the aging baby-boomer generation, of which many are active much later in life than were prior generations. As of May 2015, medical records and health information technicians bring in a median salary of $37,110 per year. Medical and health service managers earned a median amount of $94,500 annually that year.
Healthcare professionals who hold a related bachelor's degree may increase their capabilities with a Health Informatics Graduate Certificate. Those looking for a more advanced research oriented degree may seek a master's degree in health informatics.