If you’re interested in the diverse, expanding careers surrounding electronic medical records, you may find yourself wondering about the difference between health information management and health informatics.
While the two sound similar, they’re actually quite different, from daily job responsibilities to what you need to study in order to enter the field.
What is health informatics? Sitting at the intersection of healthcare and information technology (IT), professionals in this interdisciplinary field design, develop, and manage the necessary infrastructure for the retrieval, storage, and distribution of health-related data.
While health informatics deals with the science behind electronic health records, health information management, as its name suggests, deals with the management of such data, ensuring, according to the American Health Information Management Association, patients’ health records are “complete, accurate, and protected.”*
If you’re passionate about information technology and are interested in designing, building, and maintaining patient data information systems, a career in informatics may be for you.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in using those systems for essential healthcare functions, such as medical coding, government compliance, organizing patient data, and more, the field of health information management is a better match for your career goals than health informatics.
With paper records now becoming obsolete (as mandated by the Affordable Care Act’s directive to switch to electronic health records), there’s an ongoing need for health informatics professionals, with career opportunities abundant and diverse.
To enter the field of health informatics, you’ll need to be fluent in a range of interdisciplinary topics, from project management to healthcare information technology. A health informatics degree at the graduate level, such as an MS in Information Technology with a health informatics specialization, will provide you with this background, preparing you to hit the ground running upon completion.
A master’s in information technology focused on health informatics can help prepare you to work in any health-related field with an informatics component, including but not limited to home care, telemedicine, and medical application programming and development. Positions within the informatics field for which you may qualify include systems analyst, implementation specialist, application specialist, chief medical information officer, and much more.†
If you’re already working full time, an IT master’s degree may feel out of reach, especially if you’re balancing work and family commitments.
If this is the case, you’re in good company. Because of time constraints, many health informatics professionals chose to earn their health informatics degrees online, enabling them to fully participate in a rigorous, classroom-style education without the need to travel to class.
Learn how Walden University’s MS in Information Technology online degree program with a health informatics specialization can help you enter the field of informatics.
*American Health Information Management Association, What Is Health Information?, on the Internet at www.ahima.org/careers/healthinfo.
†Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.