The Growing Field of Health Informatics
Overall, the field of health care tends to be one in which there are many job opportunities at good salaries. However, some people may be attracted to the field of healthcare but might not want to work directly in patient care. Health informatics is a subfield of healthcare management and is an excellent choice for people who are organized thinkers and good with data. Patient records used to be kept in paper files, but in response to a federal mandate, for the past few years, they have been stored electronically. People who work in healthcare informatics are involved in the collection and storage of complex data as well as in making its retrieval as easy as possible for health care workers. They also work to ensure that the data they gather remains safe.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical records and health information technicians are expected to grow at a rate of 13%, which is higher than average growth. The U.S. population is getting older, and this means more medical services will be needed. Meanwhile, insurance regulations are not getting any simpler, and good recordkeeping is critical for insurance reimbursement. The BLS also predicts likely growth in the areas of special purpose registries, with cancer registries already growing quickly. These registries collect information about patient diagnosis, treatment and survivorship to help with others’ treatment plans going forward. As of May 2018, median wages in the top industries in the field of health informatics ranged from around $35,000 to more than $43,000.
Preparing to Work in Health Informatics
In a few cases, it may be possible to work in health informatics with a high school diploma and a background in health care, but most jobs require at least an associate’s degree or a certificate. According to the BLS, the job outlook in health informatics is best for people who are certified. For example, a person could become a Certified Tumor Registrar or a Registered Health Information Technician. Applicants could be hired and then required to complete certification as a condition of keeping the job. In some states, certification is required for certain positions. People who get an associate’s degree in health informatics will study such subjects as health data requirements, classification and coding, healthcare statistics, healthcare reimbursement, and computers. They may also need a background in such courses as physiology and anatomy. High school students who want to pursue a career in health information technology should take courses in math, computers, biology, and health. People who want to work in a management capacity may need to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Health informatics is a fast-growing and fast-changing field. Population changes and the rise in electronic healthcare records ensures that the job outlook for health informatics should remain strong for years to come.