What is Health Informatics?

January 25, 2022

Byron Barton

Chair, Healthcare

Just as in every other aspect of our lives, data plays a big role in today’s healthcare landscape. Health organizations need people who understand how to create systems that collect and maintain that data, as well as how to extract information from it to create actionable insights. This is where the field of health informatics comes into play.

What is health informatics?

Health informatics is the field that synthesizes data analytics, data science and information management to collect, analyze and apply data to improve health outcomes. Informaticists develop and evaluate systems that collect and use data to increase efficiencies in healthcare organizations. The ultimate goal is to enhance healthcare services, lower costs and improve patient outcomes.

What is the difference between health informatics and health technology?

Health informatics encompasses the collection, analysis and application of data, while health technology can refer to any type of device, equipment or system in the healthcare setting.

Is there also a difference between health informatics and health information management?

While both involve data, there is a difference between the two. Health information management typically pertains to the organization, analysis and protection of health data. It’s also concerned with how that data is used. While health informatics may include that, it has the added scope of developing, implementing and evaluating the very systems used to collect and analyze that data.

What do you need to pursue a career in health informatics?

In the early days of health informatics, many informaticists were administrators who were thrust into the role of supervising the development of a health information system or volunteered to create one.  Since then, the field has matured and become more specialized, with many health organizations employing dedicated informatics and data science personnel. There are now undergraduate and graduate programs in health informatics, equipping those who wish to enter the field with the specific skills that health organizations are looking for.

Why should you enroll in a master’s in health informatics?

Data and its impact on operations continues to play a larger and larger role in health organization operations. All of them are collecting tremendous amounts of data, and the organizations which collate and analyze this data best will have an edge over those who don’t. They’ll have better operating efficiencies, which will translate to better cost savings and patient outcomes. A master’s in healthcare informatics is not only critical for those wishing to advance their career in informatics, but is also beneficial for leaders in health organizations who need to better understand how data is collected and processed, and the impact data has on operations.

What jobs can you get with a master’s in health informatics?

A master’s in health informatics is a solid credential for a wide variety of positions in the field. Here are some examples:

  • Director of health informatics
  • Healthcare informatics consultant
  • Clinical informatics manager/specialist
  • Health informatics specialist/analyst
  • Senior health informatics and information systems advisor
  • Healthcare informatics and reporting specialist

Equip yourself with the skills you need to excel in the field of health informatics. Explore American College of Education’s fully online M.S. in Health Informatics.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Byron Barton
Byron Barton, Chair, Healthcare

Dr. Byron Barton graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis with a bachelor's degree in biology. He received his doctorate from the University of Vermont, where he studied insect flight muscle using a classical and molecular genetics approach. After receiving his PhD in biology, Dr. Barton taught genetics and cell biology at Heidelberg University in Ohio, and then transitioned to international education. He taught in the premedical and medical curricula at Xavier University School of Medicine, Aruba, and was the Dean of Premedical Sciences. As Dean, Dr. Barton was responsible for facilitating the transition to an integrated curriculum in the premedical program.

At ACE, Dr. Barton has focused on helping students achieve their academic and career goals through higher education. He is an advocate of ACE’s mission to provide high quality, affordable, and accessible programs to working professionals in the healthcare field.

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