Want to work on the leading edge of health care? The Master’s in Health Informatics degree program (MHI) can position you for leadership in this evolving health care field. This degree can help existing health care professionals advance in their field, or support information technology workers in transitioning into the health care field.
Health informatics has to do with the way patients’ information is stored and shared among healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals, specialists (such as radiologists) and insurance companies. The idea is to provide better coordination of care among providers, but the challenge is to protect patients’ private medical information and comply with strict HIPAA laws.
It can also apply to Big Data and healthcare. Some experts in health informatics gather data and analyze it. This is referred to as applied research: gathering data to help improve health care.
If you’re interested in an online health informatics degree program, you may find similarities in the health information management (HIM) degree. Although both fields revolve around the use of technology in the health care field, there are distinct differences between the health informatics and health information management degrees.
|Health Informatics||Health Information Management|
|Overview||HI degree programs exist at the intersection of computer science, information technology and health care. Health informatics professionals leverage data and technology tools as well as drive organizational change to improve patient outcomes and the overall delivery of care.||HIM degree programs are designed to produce leaders responsible for the management, accuracy, accessibility and security of patient information and data assets belonging to the health organization. HIM professionals design, implement, support and maintain health information systems.|
|Learning Outcomes||Program outcomes vary, but Master’s of Health Informatics graduates should be able to demonstrate the following professional competencies:
||Program outcomes vary, but Master’s of Health Information Management graduates should be able to demonstrate the following professional competencies:
|Core Curriculum||Health informatics programs may vary, but the core curriculum may include the study of subjects including and/or related to:
||Health information management programs may vary, but core curriculum may include the study of subjects including and/or related to:
According to a report by the University of San Diego, the majority of health centers in the United States have moved to electronic patient records, which has created enormous possibilities in the field of health informatics. At the same time, the report notes that there are currently not enough skilled informatics experts to fill these new positions.
An analysis of nationwide job postings for positions related to health informatics points to evidence of a shortage of qualified workers in this field. Burning Glass Technologies’ 2014 report on the health informatics labor market found that job listings in the field remain open longer than the national average, sometimes twice as long as the ones they are replacing (i.e., medical records clerks). The Master’s of Health Informatics is designed to give professionals working in the field of health care the knowledge and skills necessary to fill these new and emerging positions. It may also provide professionals in non-health fields the opportunity to transition to careers in the expanding health informatics field. Example job titles for health informatics professionals include:
- Clinical Informatics Manager
- Health Informatics Analyst
- Health IT Consultant
- Medical Data Scientist
- Chief Medical Information Officer
Online, or distance learning, isn’t a new concept. It’s been in practice since the mid-1990s and is now commonplace, allowing today’s Master in Health Informatics online student to take advantage of the convenience of learning when and where they want.
With the prominence of online learning, the MHI program’s academic quality is maintained in distance programs and curricula. You’ll cover the same topics, theories and study the same materials in an online and on-campus program.
The same quality education is available to the online student, but there are even more benefits to distance learning. The advancement of technology offers greater accessibility, ability to organize course materials and resources, and offers greater levels of communication and connection than in years past.
There is no universal standard for a Master in Health Informatics degree, so there are things to look for to make sure that you’re enrolling in a quality institution.
First, check to see if the university is accredited. Accreditation is a standard of academic quality that acknowledges a school or program has met a high standard of quality from an independent accrediting organization. For a university to receive this stamp of approval, they must pass a rigorous examination of their business operations, teaching and programs to ensure that the school is viable and providing a quality education and their graduates are able to achieve admission to other schools. Accreditation is only one way to measure a program’s quality.
An MHI degree program will provide you the latest technology in areas that are pertinent to the degree. Look for areas of focus and specializations such as:
- Internet of Things
- Predictive analysis
- Project management
- Business analysis
- Health innovations
The proximity of the school to you may be important, even if you plan on taking as many classes as possible online, because you may have to travel to the campus to participate in an immersive experience, such as a practicum, or may want to attend special programs in person.
An MHI online program will generally take about two years to complete, although some schools offer accelerated programs. If you plan to work and go to school, however, the accelerated program might not be for you; many accelerated programs don’t allow students to work because they carry heavy course loads.
Enjoy a flexible learning environment – with more convenient class and study options. Attend weekly live classes or prerecorded sessions from the comfort of your home. Access study materials and reading assignments before or after work and have more flexibility to tend to important work and family obligations and outings.
- Flexible course and study times
- Course materials are organized and easily accessible online
- Connect with global peers and professors
- Use the communication platform that works best
The heavy backpack full of books is a distant memory your course materials and assignments are in your online classroom making it easy to organize resources, store notes and upload assignments – simply access them with a click of your mouse or tap of a screen.
Online learning can take you anywhere — beyond the boundaries of your community or even even your country — without leaving your home office. You may meet students from different cultures and nations, allowing you to build connections with future global clients and work collaborators.
Hearing different viewpoints can open up new insights to you as you strengthen your ability to adapt and work with different types of people, which adds to your already valued professional skillset.
If you’re concerned that an online classroom won’t offer the opportunity to bond with professors or peers, face-to face video chat allows you to engage in “face-time” to have those important discussions. And, during those one-on-one discussions, you don’t have to compete for your professors’ attention, as you may have to do following an on-campus class.
If you’d like to join the emerging field of informatics, a Master of Science in Health Informatics online can provide you with the knowledge necessary to become a force in your chosen health profession. Check out the schools that can help you succeed.
Careers & Salaries
Learn about the job titles, employers, and earnings potential for professionals with MHI degrees.