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How an Online Health Informatics Degree Can Work For You

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In today’s current climate of rising health care costs and decreased trust in hospitals, health care organizations and Western medicine in general, there is a greater need than ever before to improve health care systems and outcomes for the consumer.


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Enter health informatics, a burgeoning multidisciplinary field that uses information technology to improve health care. The disciplines involved in this field include information science, computer science, social science, behavioral science and management science, just to name a few.

But this field of study largely centers upon the application of online tools to optimize the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of information in health and medicine. This makes it a natural fit for today’s students, who have grown up with information technology as a part of their daily lives.

If working within the medical field interests you, but you’re not sure you’re the right fit for a traditional MD, keep reading about how health informatics might be exactly the career you’re looking for, and how you can best pursue it.

Jobs in Healthcare Informatics

One example of a healthcare informatics career is informatics nursing. Professionals in this role are responsible for attending to actual patients, but they also do a fair amount of “nursing” the system where they work. Informatics nurses evaluate healthcare facilities to decide what clinical IT applications can increase its efficiency, and follow through with training the staff on its use.

Another example is an implementation specialist. In this role, a graduate in health informatics helps healthcare organizations define standard processes and best practices in the use of new IT applications. As healthcare systems continue to grow in size and scope, implementation specialists will be in very high demand to keep these systems streamlined, efficient and up-to-date.

Naturally, there is also a growing demand for programmers and engineers who can build medical applications such as electronic health records and tools for remote health monitoring devices. These jobs require a paired passion for computer science and for medicine.

How an Online Degree Can Help

Since the field of health informatics is relatively new, it is attracting many students who are already employed elsewhere in the medical field. An online degree is the perfect venue for these students to transition from their current job into their area of passion.

US News reports that as a result, many prestigious medical schools have put their health informatics master’s degree programs entirely online, in order to make these programs more accessible to students who are currently employed.

At this time, there are more than 70 advanced degree programs in health informatics, many of them based online but offering on-the-job training components.

“This Field is Exploding”

 

According to Charles Friedman, who directs a major university health informatics program, “This field is exploding. Access to health information on the Web is taking off at a meteoric pace. It’s creating enormous employment opportunities.” With many healthcare informatics students receiving job offers before they’ve even finished their master’s degree, it is clear that healthcare informatics is a field tailor-made for passionate forward-thinkers who are ready to work creating bridges between health care and information technology.

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