Did you know that the health care industry has a steadily growing need for individuals with a background in analyzing and processing data? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a number of health informatics careers are projected to achieve above-average growth from 2016 to 2026.
Working to improve the performance of health care services delivery, management and planning, health informatics professionals study design, development and adoption within their organizations, applying IT-based solutions and innovations to drive efficiency and effectiveness throughout health care services. The defining characteristic across opportunities in this area is being able to analyze a vast amount of data to create and implement business solutions.
Hiring managers for health informatics positions often look for candidates with the right combination of professional experience, technical acumen and education to complete tasks ranging from data mining and processing to statistical analysis and database management. Candidates looking to break into this field should possess advanced analytical skills, highly developed oral and written communication abilities and knowledge of current health care technology trends. Professional experience for a career in health informatics can be built either within the health care field or outside of it, such as information technology roles that work with big data.
Individuals considering a career in this field may want to earn an advanced degree such as a Master of Advanced Study in health informatics. While not all positions require a master’s degree, it often may provide candidates with a competitive edge, especially when applying for management-level opportunities.
For working professionals in particular, an online Master of Advanced Study in health informatics can offer students flexibility as they learn more about the effective use of information technology, data science and knowledge representation to impact health care. The curriculum for such a degree may combine information on clinical informatics with clinical workflow and modern health technology in conjunction with data informatics. An MAS in health informatics degree will focus on enhancing graduates’ skills, preparing them for careers in a wide range of health care settings.
“People come into our program with very different perspectives and goals,” says Dr. Adela Grando, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics at Arizona State University. “For instance, we have nurses and technicians who want this knowledge because they want to take a leadership position. I also have students who know nothing about this industry but they want to transition. They come with a background in banking, data management or marketing and are taking this master’s as a way to apply what they already know to health care.”
Some of the potential career outcomes available to those with the right combination of education and experience in health informatics include population health analyst, health care IT project manager, clinical informatics manager, clinical informatics analyst and health care analytics manager. Each of these careers offers possibilities for individuals to positively impact future experiences for both medical personnel and patients.
Population health analyst
Population health analysts are responsible for providing systems-related advice and consultation by mining and analyzing public health and population data, among other duties. The BLS categorizes this role into related careers such as computer and information research scientists. It projects this occupation to grow 19 percent between 2016 and 2026.
Demand in this field is quickly increasing due to the struggle companies are experiencing in finding candidates with the right skill set for the job. Hiring organizations often prefer candidates to have advanced degrees coupled with previous work experience. Furthermore, the number of available positions is outpacing the supply of workers.
Population health analysts are responsible for mining complex data for health care organizations to provide systems-related advice to innovate and improve efficiency. They should have advanced knowledge of different data mining technologies, exceptional written and oral communication abilities and highly developed analytical skills. A typical day for these analysts include activities such as designing and building data set processes, interpreting data or developing predictive models.
The BLS reports that computer and information research scientists earn about $111,840 per year.
Health care IT project manager
Demand for this career is growing due to the increasing desire of health care organizations to expand into electronic health records and other digital platforms. Between 2016 and 2026, this profession is projected to rise by 12 percent, according to the BLS. Many organizations require a graduate degree and five or more years of work experience in related IT jobs.
Health care IT project managers plan, initiate and manage IT projects, such as an organization’s conversion from paper records to EHRs. They work with their own team while also serving as a liaison between the business side and technical aspects of a project. They help determine an organization’s health IT goals before working to implement computer systems to help reach these goals. To be successful in this role, health care IT project managers must spend ample time assessing the business implications of their work and monitoring the progress of projects.
The median pay for this position is close to $136,000, according to the BLS, with previous work experience a key determinant in eligibility for open opportunities.
Clinical informatics manager
Clinical informatics managers are frequently defined as medical and health services managers, according to the BLS. This career’s job openings are set to grow by 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is greater than the national average for all occupations.
Working most often in hospitals and clinics, clinical informatics managers transform clinical data into accessible knowledge and information for fellow staff members to make informed decisions. They plan and manage the clinical informatics program by overseeing the day-to-day operational and clinical information system activities. Additionally, individuals in this position supervise and manage staff, including handling training and development.
Clinical informatics managers commonly have master’s degrees, which is often preferred when hiring managers are reviewing applications. Two to five years of experience in informatics, possibly as a specialist or analyst, can also help with a candidate’s eligibility. Overall, medical and health services managers earn about $96,540, per the BLS.
Clinical Informatics Analyst
The increased adoption of cloud computing and electronic health records as well as the growing use of IT services within health care settings may all contribute to a rise in clinical informatics analyst positions.
Working closely with colleagues to create more efficient and productive workflows, clinical informatics analysts interpret health care data to find and implement solutions to organizational issues such as regulatory compliance, fiscal budgets and general productivity. They strategize to regulate and improve clinical practices and standards while optimizing processes and clinical information systems.
The median salary for a clinical informatics specialist is roughly $72,500, according to Payscale. Hiring managers may prefer candidates have a master’s degree, especially when the analyst role is more technically complex.
Health Care Analytics Manager
As more companies seek efficiency and cost savings, opportunities for health care analytics managers may increase. This is especially true in organizations that use high volumes of data that require additional oversight. Positions of this type have the potential for rapid growth influenced by the health care industry’s specific data and information needs.
The role of a health care analytics manager fits into the health care field through the primary goals of measuring performance and patient experience by coordinating and analyzing relevant data. Health care analytics managers are charged with creating effective strategies to not only collect the data but to also analyze it, conduct additional research if needed and implement analytics-based solutions.
Prior experience in analytics and additional certification may be beneficial for candidates along with an advanced degree. The average salary for an analytics manager is around $93,000, according to Payscale. There is also potential for professional growth by moving into roles in upper management such as director or vice president.
Learn more about your potential career in health informatics
“This field gives the opportunity to have a very high impact in health care without needing to be a doctor,” Dr. Grando says. “Data determines all the ways that an organization plans and distributes resources, so the potential is huge to make a change in the lives of thousands of patients.”
A career in health informatics may be attainable with the right combination of experience and education. Opportunities in this area require a sound background in IT principles, which the online MAS in health informatics from Arizona State University aims to provide through its innovative approach to computer science, information technology and knowledge management. Professionals in non-health fields may enhance their knowledge as they transition to careers in this rapidly expanding field, while those already working in the industry may improve their opportunities for career advancement.