Biomedical diagnostics vs. health informatics: Comparing these master’s programs

December 20, 2022 · 7 min read · By ASU Online

A master’s in health informatics or biomedical diagnostics is ideal for those looking to advance their career in the technology-driven health care field. See how these advanced degrees from ASU Online compare and learn about the careers they can lead to.


Health care operations increasingly rely on technology. This includes electronic health record keeping and biomedical diagnostic studies. Medical technology creates new approaches for screening, treatment and more. Professionals who develop and manage these tools are becoming increasingly valuable in the health care market.

The demand for health care professionals is expected to continue to rise over the coming years. Health informatics and biomedical diagnostics specialists are no exception. Job openings for health information technologists, which health informatics falls under, are expected to increase by 17% between 2021 and 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, which biomedical diagnostics falls under, are expected to increase by 7% from 2021 to 2031 according to the BLS.

Health care professionals who want to advance in their field and help technology spread have two master’s degree options available through Arizona State University: the online Master of Advanced Study in health informatics and the online Master of Science in biomedical diagnostics. Both degrees explore the role of technology in modern treatment development and delivery. They also help students gain the expertise to take advantage of the latest informatics and biomedical innovations.

Trying to decide which path is right for you? Comparing the coursework and career outcomes for each program is a good place to start.


Careers in health informatics and biomedical diagnostics

Both a health informatics degree and a biomedical diagnostics degree give you access to opportunities across multiple health care specialties. From information technology (IT) infrastructure oversight to research and development support, you can qualify for a variety of roles with these credentials.

Most health informatics careers center on core information technology system management. These include:

  • Electronic health system analyst

Electronic health record (EHR) system analysts manage the IT architecture that supports digital patient information collection, storage and sharing. They use technical knowledge and legal awareness to balance the security of EHRs with the need for authorized users, like doctors and nurses, to access them. EHR system analysts also have a hand in billing and reimbursement. They ensure that all patient information is accurate and ready for coding.

As of 2021, nearly 4 in 5 office-based physicians (78%) and nearly all non-federal acute care hospitals (96%) had adopted a certified EHR, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The EHR system analyst role originally came about as a way to increase compliance with government rules, and remains essential today.

  • Medical data scientist

Data scientists with master’s in health informatics degrees navigate industry-specific software and assemble fragmented data into digestible formats. They create the statistical basis for new treatments and population health initiatives. They also handle smaller projects used to boost clinical decision-making.

Technology drives health care innovation. Organizations actively seek out talented technical experts who can use data to develop techniques and tools that produce better patient outcomes. Many providers compete with startups in Silicon Valley to attract these specialists, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

  • Quality analytics manager

Quality analytics managers use their technical expertise to ensure that essential backend reporting infrastructure functions properly. They also work to make lead data formatting and submission efforts accurate and effective. These professionals focus on the growing need to prioritize quality of care as a core metric in health care.

The patient-driven reimbursement model rewards providers for positive outcomes as opposed to service delivery volume. This model has forced health care groups to re-emphasize quality. Monitoring patient outcomes and preparing this information for submission to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other parties is now a top priority.

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Diagnostics is at the center of health care innovation and clinical decision-making, and is essential to the success of personalized medicine. The careers linked to a master’s in biomedical diagnostics degree can vary from clinical to business-based. They include:

  • Research and development support specialist

Medical device makers, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations focus on developing new treatments in an effort to dominate the biomedical marketplace. Countless health care professionals help drive the research and development efforts that produce such vital work. That includes R&D support specialists. These individuals typically use their expertise to support product development, particularly related to instrument creation.

  • Clinical laboratory manager

Clinical laboratories handle fluid and tissue testing operations. This process helps physicians create patient treatment strategies. Many health care specialists work in such environments. Managers play a key role in these efforts. They use the knowledge from a master’s in biomedical diagnostics to oversee scientists and operations.

Professionals in these roles also develop procedures to ensure lab work is completed as necessary. The demand for these staff members has risen significantly in recent years due to growth in the elderly population, according to the BLS. As more older Americans develop serious conditions such as diabetes and cancer, clinical lab work multiplies. With it comes the rising demand for clinical laboratory managers.

  • Business development professional

Treatment development is big business. Medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical firms seek to create products that improve patient outcomes and generate revenue. Business development professionals with biomedical diagnostic expertise help these and other organizations strike this balance. They do this by offering operational insight that lays the groundwork for treatments that are accessible, effective and profitable.


What you'll learn in the master’s in health informatics program

The ASU Online master’s in health informatics program educates students about the technology that makes modern clinical operations possible. Students pursuing this degree study high-level computer science concepts such as data modeling and IT infrastructure design. This degree program also addresses broader, yet relevant skills like clinical support, data analysis and leadership.

The program’s core courses will provide you with a background in the effective use of information technology, data science and knowledge representation to impact health and health care. Electives allow you to specialize in focus areas such as health data analytics, clinical informatics or health care technology implementation.

The health informatics master’s degree is offered through ASU’s College of Health Solutions, where partnerships with the medical community offer students in this program access to professional resources and networking opportunities with Mayo Clinic, Banner Health, Dignity Health, HonorHealth and the Veterans Health Administration. These collaborations allow students to work on assignments and team projects with clinicians, nurses and other health care professionals while gaining experience in the field.

This degree prepares graduates to enhance their skills for health informatics careers in a wide range of health care systems from small clinics, hospitals, state and government agencies, insurance companies, software development companies or health informatics consulting companies.


What you'll learn in the master's in biomedical diagnostics program

The ASU Online master’s in biomedical diagnostics is the only graduate program of its kind in the country. You’ll explore and develop a deep understanding of the science, technology and business of how modern medicine diagnoses disease today and in the future. You’ll also gain insights into a large and growing industry that is at the center of health care innovation and personalized medicine.

The master’s in biomedical diagnostics program addresses five core curricular areas:

  • Technology: You’ll explore topics such as assay creation, biomedical engineering and diagnostic product development and implementation.
  • Science: You’ll focus on bioinformatics, biostatistical analysis, clinical trial design, regulatory systems, and technology for imaging, pathology and molecular and immunology testing platforms.
  • Business: Students address public and private health care finance and reimbursement, precision medical health care delivery and companion diagnostics.
  • Policy: Students survey the role of public policy in addressing public health needs through the advancement of diagnostics.
  • Application: Students unpack case studies on diagnostic-related issues, such as bioethics, intellectual property, smart solutions, modality integration and system analysis.

The biomedical diagnostics program has been designed by expert faculty with significant real-world experience in the science, business, legal and technical facets of diagnostics. Students will work on a capstone project in the field related to diagnostics as their culminating experience. This project allows students to apply their knowledge to actual health care initiatives.

After earning a master’s in biomedical diagnostics online, you’ll be prepared to assist top biomedical companies in transforming health care and medical services or take on management roles in the field. Additionally, some students use this master’s program as a stepping stone to pursue medical school.


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