Healthcare informatics is a specialty that is increasingly in demand at all levels of health care. Electronic patient and medical records (EHRs and EMRs) are here to stay, while federal mandates for meaningful use have upped the ante in the use of all electronic patient documentation, data storage, reporting and quality improvement. You may have several different options for careers in health informatics once you have a master’s degree.
Many organizations may not be large enough to have full-time informaticists on board. Consulting offers a way for smaller organizations to meet regulatory and quality requirements while keeping employment overhead costs manageable. Consultants might install software, update networks, monitor and troubleshoot systems, train teams or implement a new project like an organization-wide EMR. The salary range for this position will vary according to the specialty, type of project and location, but the American Health Information Management Association reports an average salary of $80,000 a year. Consultants may be independent contractors or work for an organization such as a software company.
IT Project Manager
The focus of project management is to coordinate large and highly complicated projects such as an EMR implementation or other technology roll-out. Although technical skills are important, people skills and the ability to track and organize the various activities are also vital. Project managers must be able to negotiate and collaborate with many different disciplines, acquire the resources necessary for projects, supervise staff working on various phases of the project and coordinate with outside entities such as software vendors. Salaries vary according to the size of the organization and project.
Health Information Director/Chief Information Officer
The title may cover a broad range of responsibilities, but in all cases, those in this position should have both high-level technological skills and people skills as well. One of the key responsibilities is integrating and organizing the flow of data across different ares of the organization. In this position, you might work with clinical leaders to develop, roll out or modify new technology and software, ensure teams are trained in the use of EMRs or develop ways to mine data for use in quality improvement efforts or for reporting purposes. AHIMA reports a salary range of $80,000 to $100,000 a year.
The position requires that your undergraduate degree be in nursing, as the focus is on how nurses use electronic records to document and manage patient care. A might train and support other staff in the implementation of an EMR, help improve particular aspects of documentation such as the nursing care plan, analyze the use of technology in nursing care, help implement new software or modify software to make it more user friendly. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society reported nurse informaticists earned an average salary of $100,717 in 2014.
Chief Medical information Officer
This senior-level executive position is responsible for the overall implementation and use of healthcare information systems, including EMRs, within a healthcare organization. The focus is on IT infrastructure, software applications and ensuring training, as well as extracting information to use for improved patient care and quality improvement. The position may also be found in academic settings. In addition to a medical degree, a PhD may be required for top-level positions. Recruiting firm CEJKA reports salaries range from $200,000 to $300,000 a year (data from 2008).
Getting a master’s degree in health information opens a number of different doors when it comes to possible careers. Demand should remain high for the foreseeable future. Whatever your background, you should find the right position.