Career opportunities for health informatics (HI) professional have been skyrocketing in recent years, making many wonder what degree is needed to work in this hot field. Health informatics is the collection, storage, retrieval and use of healthcare information to improve the quality of health care delivered to patients. It's a combination of healthcare, information technology and communication. The aging population, increasing use of electronic health records and the availability of health care to more individuals have put a demand for qualified HI professionals, which are available at every degree level.
Jobs with Associate Degrees
Students can earn associate degrees in two years of full-time study. Students enrolled in online programs may be ready to join the workforce in less time. There are several jobs available to those with an associate.
- Health Information Technician – They collect, store, manage and organize healthcare data and enter into the healthcare facility's computer system. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts these technicians could see a job growth of 13 percent during the 2016-2026 decade.
- Medical Biller and Coder – These professionals analyze patient bills, transfer treatments into hospital codes and enter them into the computer system so they can be sent for reimbursement. Medical billers and coders should also see a 13 percent increase in jobs.
- Cancer Registrar –This professional reviews patient records, assigns classification codes for cancer treatment, analyzes cancer patients' history and maintains the database for cancer patients.
Jobs with Bachelor Degrees
Full-time students can earn bachelor degrees in four years. Students in these programs complete major-related courses, general education courses, lab studies and clinical internships. Several excellent jobs are available to individuals who have bachelor's degrees in HI.
- Healthcare Informatics Specialist – HI specialists work as liaisons between the information technology department and the clinical practice at a medical facility. They also determine what technology should be used to meet the healthcare goals of the company and train other employees in this area. HI specialists should see a job growth of 14 percent from 2016-2026.
- Clinical Informatics Data Analyst – This individual works with the IT department designated by the manager and does various duties related to the collection, use and storage of data. They also analyze the data to ensure its accuracy. The BLS predicts these analysts could see an employment growth of seven percent by 2026.
Jobs with Master Degrees
Candidates interested in pursuing master's or graduate degrees in healthcare informatics can plan on completing one to three more years of college past the baccalaureate level. Once they graduate, they have many opportunities available to them.
- Healthcare Informatics Managers –These highly-qualified professionals are in charge of implementing, managing and overseeing a health information system. They assess the needs of the company and determine if the needs are being met or if adjustments must be met. They also recruit and train other employees. The BLS projects a job growth of 20 percent for these workers.
- Nurse Informatics Specialist –These workers may be RNs with bachelor's degrees, but they must have additional training and may earn master's degrees. They oversee an entire nursing department and work with the clinical and IT department.
This field is growing rapidly with more and more colleges now offering HI programs. U.S. News & World Report states that there are now more than 70 programs offers advanced degrees. HI specialists are very much in demand today. An individual who is interested in this field can easily find the right program to meet his or her ideal job in healthcare informatics.