Online Healthcare Informatics Degree Information

Learn about online degrees with Healthcare Informatics courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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Essential Information

Both bachelor's and master's degree programs in health informatics (sometimes referred to as medical informatics) are relatively easy to find in an online format. Online graduate certificate programs are also relatively common.

Bachelor's degree programs with majors in health informatics, nurse/clinician informatics and bioinformatics are available in fully online formats that allow students to study in an asynchronous format. Some follow the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 'AMIA 10x10', which standardizes the education to meet the AMIA goals. Graduate certificate programs in health informatics require students to have a previous degree and take about one year. Though less common than the graduate certificate, online master's degree programs do exist and are generally affiliated with a hospital or medical facility.

Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Informatics

With the increase of available federal funding for this career path, many colleges are offering healthcare informatics programs. Students can come from a healthcare background or a computer background. Nurses, for example, would need computer training while computer specialists would need to learn the ins and outs of medical information.

A typical bachelor's degree program in healthcare informatics would not have any specific prerequisites, and many are tailored to the backgrounds of the incoming students. Classes can be found in nursing, information technology, computer science and library sciences programs.

Information and Requirements

Bachelor's degree programs in healthcare informatics generally last four years and are designed to meld the necessary computer information with the needs of the medical industry. Most online programs are asynchronous, meaning you can study the material at any time on your own schedule. Online healthcare informatics degrees are uncommon but increasing in number. Most programs emphasize the management of healthcare information.

The American Medical Informatics Association has also designed the 'AMIA 10x10' program established to bring some curriculum standardization to the field. While not specifically designed for bachelor's degree programs, many colleges use the 'AMIA 10x10' when designing their healthcare informatics curricula.

List of Common Healthcare Informatics Courses

These programs can be listed as health informatics, medical informatics, bioinformatics or nurse/clinician informatics. Coursework can vary from that for a medical records technician who needs to record and catalog information to someone who creates computer programs for the medical industry.

Healthcare Systems and Data Classes

Students in this class learn about the overall management of data structures within a hospital or medical environment. The class might include statistical analysis of data.

Disease Concepts

To succeed in a medical technology environment, students must first understand how disease occurs and is treated. This class lays out a general foundation of information that can be used when managing healthcare information systems.

Quality Assurance

Medical care is regulated by federal, state and local entities. This class provides a fundamental background in how to effectively measure the quality of patient care and how to present healthcare information when needed.


Graduate Certificates in Healthcare Informatics

The most common online healthcare informatics program available is designed for someone who already has a bachelor's or master's degree. As the field has matured, more medical records technicians are looking for official certification that is offered by graduate-level certificates.

Information and Requirements

This program can be offered as part of a university curriculum and would follow the usual semester or quarter system of classes. Most are asynchronous so students can take the classes as they wish within the overall time framework. Graduate certificate programs in healthcare informatics are generally comprised of 7-8 courses or approximately 24 credit hours.

List of Common Healthcare Informatics Courses

Classes taken in a graduate healthcare informatics certificate program are designed to provide students with advanced knowledge of healthcare informatics. Students need to know how healthcare data systems are designed, how to effectively use those systems and how to measure whether those systems are effective in the patient care process.

Decision Support Systems

In a clinical setting, much of the care is based upon a system of best practices. This class looks at the methods and training required to follow best practices that can be measured for effectiveness.

Informatics for Public Health

Large public health systems require methods of measurement and analysis. This class provides the methodologies for the production of reports for overall public health.

Information Security and Privacy

Any study of a health record system requires extensive training in security and confidentiality. A class like this provides the parameters for the protection of information for patients.


Master's Degree in Healthcare Informatics

Graduate certificates in healthcare informatics can also be taken in conjunction with master's degree programs. Master's degree programs can be found in library science departments, information technology departments or business schools. Many are connected to an affiliated healthcare system or medical school.

Information and Requirements

Master's degree programs in healthcare informatics take 1-2 to complete depending on prior coursework taken from a bachelor's degree program. Programs are designed for either a healthcare employee or an IT employee to cross-train. Online programs are less common for a master's degree than a graduate certificate, but they do exist.

List of Common Healthcare Informatics Courses

Graduate degree level classes are generally slanted toward medical systems design or management of information systems within the healthcare environment. Most classes involve the manipulation of data and the measurement of information in order to provide effective reporting.

Healthcare Database Systems

Much of medical recordkeeping is based on the use of extensive interconnected databases. With the advent of federal regulations encouraging inter-connected health records, this kind of class is essential.

Legal Issues in Healthcare Information

Privacy and confidentiality are essential components of good medical record systems. Both access and protection must be carefully guarded. This class provides training on the regulations designed to protect the patient.

Surveillance Systems for Public Health

Public health as a professional discipline requires generalized view of health management and policies. This course is designed to teach students how to measure the health of overall populations.


Career Information for Graduates

People working in healthcare informatics need to understand computers and have rudimentary knowledge of medical terminology and healthcare practices and procedures. Because every medical establishment at every level is being pushed to develop electronic health records (EHRs), the need for skilled workers is very high. As with many technical fields, internships can be an effective way to increase your job prospects.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 15% increase in health information and medical record technician jobs from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Health information and medical record technicians, according to the BLS, earned a median annual wage of $37,110 as of May 2015.

Generally, people who seek graduate certificates or master's degrees in healthcare informatics have been working in the field either as nurses or IT professionals. For instance, nurse statisticians can earn higher salaries by acquiring these skills.

The BLS projected a much-faster-than-average job growth of 17% for medical and health services managers from 2014-2024. According to the BLS, they earned a median annual salary of $94,500 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

As the field matures, people may wish to pursue advanced degrees in this field. Computer hardware and software systems are constantly being upgraded which might necessitate retraining.

Some of these programs are designed specifically for people who have been working in medical records fields and are now faced with greater computer challenges. With computer systems changing rapidly, a student may wish to return to classes in order to update computer skills.

Often using industry standard curriculum guidelines, online bachelor's degree programs in health informatics prepare students to use computer technology to manage information within a medical setting. Individuals looking to advance their careers can pursue a graduate certificate in the field or the less common master's degree online.

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