5 Essential Courses in a Health Informatics Degree
- Policy Issues in Health Information Technology
- Health Informatics Evaluation Methods
- U.S. Health Care System Overview
- Consumer Health Informatics
- Ethics and Data Use
Earning a degree in health informatics requires taking these five key courses in order to build competency. These five key courses lay the foundation for a solid understanding of technology in healthcare. These five introductory courses in a health informatics degree program are usually taken before more in-depth classes.
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1. Policy Issues in Health Information Technology
People who work in health informatics need to stay on top of the latest laws and policies. These include laws regarding health records, storage of information, data analysis and sharing of personally identifiable information. Some policies that health informatics workers specifically need to keep track of include the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health and the Affordable Care Act.
2. Health Informatics Evaluation Methods
This type of course in health informatics focuses on the evaluation of the existing technologies and emerging technologies for healthcare. Cost and benefit analysis are a big part of this type of class. Students will also learn about how to evaluate a piece of software for efficiency and productivity purposes. The interoperability, compatibility, and security of health informatics systems will also be covered in this class. The course may also cover ways to improve health informatics in the future.
3. U.S. Healthcare System Overview
The U.S. healthcare system is complicated. A key course in a health informatics degree program will provide an overview of the parts of the system and how they interact. The course may cover insurance, including public, subsidized and private health insurance. It may also cover the facilities that provide healthcare, such as hospitals, clinics, health departments, and private practitioners. Interactions between these entities and how technology plays a role in them will also be explored in this class. This type of class will also usually include policies related to the delivery of healthcare in the USA.
4. Consumer Health Informatics
According to the University of Illinois at Chicago, health informatics workers should have strong skills in communications. Consumer health informatics classes bridge the gap between technology and communicating with patients. This class covers topics such as the systems and software that patients use in order to communicate with their physicians. The course may also cover systems that monitor patient compliance and progress. Consumer health informatics classes will also include information about educating patients and their families about risk factors, diagnosis and treatment plans and how technology plays a role in those activities.
5. Ethics and Data Use
Ethics and data use is another class that health informatics degree programs may include. In some programs, these may be split into separate classes. Ethics explores the generally acceptable handling, storage, retrieval, sharing and analysis of health data within and between organizations. Data use covers what an individual or facility may do with the data that they collect. This type of class may intersect with health informatics policies, especially around topics such as patient confidentiality.
Each of these five courses in a health informatics degree program provides a foundation for further learning. As technology advances, students and people who already work in the field may need to keep their skills up-to-date with additional classes or continuing education. Technology now plays a key role in the delivery of healthcare, and these five key courses in health informatics facilitate the learning process.