What Can You Do With a Health Informatics Degree?

Health informatics is an innovative field that combines healthcare, technology, and management to improve patient outcomes. As a career, it’s a rewarding path that allows you to exercise technical skills and offers a comfortable salary with the opportunity to improve patients’ lives.

The first step to becoming a health informatics professional is to obtain a relevant degree. However, it’s important to know whether this field is right for you before pursuing any education. Here’s an overview of the top career paths you can pursue with a health informatics degree, top jobs that require informatics skills, the benefits of working in this rewarding industry, and how you can start your career.

Health Informatics Careers

Health informatics is instrumental in improving patient outcomes and offers several career paths that support other positions within the healthcare industry. These professionals help to develop and maintain the software, hardware, and technology used in the healthcare system.

There are several rewarding career paths in this field, the biggest of which “are going to be the ones managing the systems, and the analysis of data coming from these systems, in a way that supports clinical work,” says Jay Spitulnik, associate teaching professor and director of Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Health Informatics, an interdisciplinary program between Bouvé College of Health Sciences and Khoury College.

The top careers in the health informatics industry include:

  1. Health/clinical informatics specialists
  2. Clinical informatics analysts
  3. Clinical informatics managers/directors
  4. Testing analysts
  5. Project managers
  6. Bioinformatics scientists
  7. Biostatisticians

These roles have a variety of approaches to health informatics. “Clinical informatics specialists are the ones who are really dealing with the immediate healthcare coverage,” Spitulnik says. “Bioinformatics is more heavily geared toward a research-based approach, not a practical application approach.”

5 Top Jobs With Health Informatics Skills

While there are several in-demand roles in the health informatics industry, a variety of additional careers benefit from in-demand skills a healthcare informatics master’s degree can equip you with.

According to our analysis of job postings and profile data, master’s-level graduates who list health informatics skills on their professional profiles most commonly have the following job titles:

  1. Executive positions: Executive-level positions, such as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) often require healthcare informatics skills. With the rise of electronic health records (EHRs) and the push toward more data-driven decision-making, a solid foundation in healthcare informatics has become essential for those leading healthcare institutions.
  2. Health informatics analysts: The use of EHRs has grown tremendously in recent years, leading to an abundance of available health data. Health informatics analysts need the ability to interpret and leverage this data to enhance patient outcomes.
  3. Project managers: The management of healthcare databases is a critical task that often falls under the purview of project managers. For this reason, these professionals need to possess health informatics skills to effectively execute their job responsibilities.
  4. Software engineers and developers: Software developer positions are some of the highest paying computer science careers. In healthcare, these types of professionals have the opportunity to work on software that captures and interprets healthcare data.
  5. Implementation consultants: Health informatics consultants are typically contracted for project-based work. They help clients optimize the management of health data and information systems, and require a proficiency in informatics to effectively establish and maintain these programs.

Some of the most common people who pursue advanced education in healthcare informatics are doctors and physicians hoping to obtain executive positions. “We have had a lot of doctors who come into the program because they want to go into the management of informatics within their organization,” explains Spitulnik. “And so as a physician, they get qualified through our degree program to become Chief Medical Information Officers.”

Benefits of Working in Healthcare Informatics

Health Informatics is a fast-paced, dynamic, and rewarding field that offers a variety of promising career opportunities. Pursuing a degree in this field—such as a Master of Science in Health Informatics—can be a great way to enter and grow within this industry.

There are several reasons—both personal and professional—that pursuing a degree in this field is worth the investment.

Pays a Competitive Salary

Graduates of health informatics programs have excellent earning potential, with professionals earning a median salary of $105,000 per year, according to our analysis of job postings data.

This is largely due to the demand for professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to manage and analyze healthcare data, as well as the increasing importance of technology in the healthcare industry.

Offers In-Demand Careers

As technology continues to advance, the need for talented informatics professionals is increasing accordingly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health informatics related careers are growing much faster than average—at a rate of approximately 17 percent.

Furthermore, graduates of healthcare informatics master’s degree programs are experiencing a similar increase in demand. According to our analysis of job postings reports, the number of employers hiring health informatics program graduates is increasing at an annual rate of 6.5 percent.

Improves Patient Outcomes

One of the most rewarding elements of a health informatics career is the ability to improve others’ lives. “[Health informatics professionals] can get a level of satisfaction knowing that they’re providing what’s needed to ultimately reach the best outcomes,” Spitulnik explains. “This is all going to be used to help the patient and their caregivers get more directly involved with the decisions that are being made and with the treatment that they’re getting.”

Works with Advancing Technology

Health informatics professionals have the opportunity to work with the latest technology and trends in digital informatics. They use this technology—such as EHR systems—to interpret data and make it more accessible to physicians and patients in a way that makes sense.

“[Health informatics professionals] translate one group’s language into another group’s,” Spitulnik says. “A physician can go to an informatics professional and say, ‘I’ve got all this data coming from my EHR. I need you to help me access real-time reports that I can use to both make decisions about how I’m going to treat the patient, but also to communicate it to the patient in a way that they’ll understand.’”

How To Break Into Health Informatics

Want to find a position in this exciting and in-demand field of healthcare? The steps to work in healthcare informatics are fairly straightforward. According to Spitulnik, there are three key steps prospective informatics professionals should take.

1. Obtain a Relevant Master’s Degree

A master’s in health informatics is the most important credential individuals need to find a career in health informatics. While some programs require a related professional or undergraduate background to apply, Northeastern’s MS in Health Informatics is open to any professional hoping to break into the field.

“Our degree is set up with a high-level of flexibility so that people can come in with any kind of background,” Spitulnik explains. “They don’t have to have any kind of technical or healthcare background.”

2. Network with Current Professionals

Networking is an important part of finding any career—health informatics is no exception. Selecting a program that provides networking opportunities can make it easier to find a position following graduation.

“To break into health informatics—and this is something that I say over and over and over again—is [all about] networking, networking, networking,” Spitulnik says. “And we provide tons of networking opportunities [at Northeastern] that can help you break into your career.”

3. Become Familiar Working with Technical Systems

While not a requirement, Spitulnik recommends that prospective healthcare informatics professionals become familiar with technical systems or coding languages like Python.

“Have some comfort working with the technical systems,” Spitulnik advises. “Even though you’re not necessarily going to be doing the manipulation of the technical systems, you have to be comfortable enough working with it.”

If you don’t have this experience, however, don’t worry—programs like Northeastern’s are intended to catch you up regardless of your background. “Our program is set up to take people from the most basic levels and turn them into functional health informatics professionals,” Spitulnik says. “We have coursework that will help you learn basic healthcare technology and language.”

Start Your Health Informatics Career

If you’re ready to take the next steps in your health informatics career, it’s important to select a master’s program that effectively prepares you for the career you’re aspiring to. Northeastern’s MS in Health Informatics is an excellent option, since it prepares you to work with a variety of professionals within the healthcare space.

“Our program is flexible,” Spitulnik says. “But within that flexibility, people have to take at least two courses in health sciences, two courses in business management, and two courses in information sciences, so they come out with a good, thorough, interdisciplinary understanding and ability to speak all the different languages that they have to speak [in healthcare].”

Want to begin your health informatics journey? Consider checking out Northeastern’s Master of Science in Health Informatics to learn the skills you’ll need to effectively analyze, interpret, and communicate data.

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