What are the Careers in Health Informatics?

What Does a Health Informatics Professional Do?

A health informatics professional is an administrative specialist who employs their understanding of information technology and healthcare systems to navigate and manage patient-related data. Fluent in medical coding and classification, their skills for collecting, filing, deciphering, and retrieving data are instrumental to the modern healthcare system and its keeping of medical records.

Health informatics professionals work within the field of healthcare, however they do not provide patients with any sort of medical care. In fact, they typically do not interact with patients at all except for instances when communicating with a patient is necessary to obtain and/or confirm their data. Health informatics professionals are essentially information guardians who maintain large quantities of medical-records data for its organized storage, secure-keeping, accurate interpretation, and easy retrieval.

What is a Health Informatics Degree?

A health informatics degree teaches students a high-level understanding of both medical coding/classification systems and informatics technology. The degree’s purpose is to prepare future health informatics professionals to facilitate accurate recording, evaluation, and the secure storage and retrieval of confidential patient information. Students also learn how confidential patient information is communicated amongst healthcare providers and insurance companies.

The most typical of health informatics degrees are earned as a Bachelor’s of Science and/or a Master’s of Science. The degree is a comprehensive one, covering a variety of subjects such as electronic medical records and data, computer networks, compliance and categorization, and the laws and regulations that ensure patients’ private health information is kept secure and confidential.

What are the Careers in Health Informatics?

The career options for health informatics professionals are quite diverse. The following is a list of the most common careers in health informatics. However, this list may not include every possibility and should not be considered a complete, fully-comprehensive list. Some of these careers may combine the functions of two or more, and others may be missing entirely. Nevertheless, for those considering a career in health informatics, this is a great place to start.

Cancer Registrar

A cancer registrar is a health informatics professional who is responsible for recording cancer-related information into a database that is specifically reserved for cancer-related information. These cancer databases amalgamate large quantities of sensitive cancer patient information such as early signs and symptoms, treatments used and their effectiveness.

Cancer registrars maintain and organize this data so medical professionals and cancer researchers may identify trends in the information to aid in early cancer detection and better treatments. Cancer registrars must typically earn an associate’s degree and certification that is accredited through the National Cancer Registrars Association.

Clinical Documentation Specialist

A clinical documentation specialist is a registered nurse who manages patient documentation for medical services and/or clinical trials received. These professionals analyze medical records to verify that recorded materials accurately characterize patient illnesses, symptoms, treatments, and medications prescribed by physicians.

As they review these medical documents, clinical documentation specialists might also corroborate diagnoses with physicians in order to detect mistakes. Clinical documentation specialists must earn either a Bachelor’s or an Associate’s degree in nursing and may also be required to pass the Registered Health Information Technician test.

Clinical Informaticist

A clinical informaticist is a healthcare information professional whose roles and responsibilities vary depending on work setting and for whom they are employed. Borrowed from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, a clinical informaticst applies “informatics and information technology” for the provision of healthcare amenities.” Clinical informaticists essentially specialize at a juncture where the science of information systems, medical professionals, and healthcare administrators meet.

The education requirements to become a clinical informaticist range from a two-year Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s, and up to a Master’s degree contingent upon the depth of scope a clinical informaticst may wish to concentrate.

Electronic Medical Records Specialist

An electronic medical records specialist electronically manages patient medical records. They receive patients’ medical charts and any notes, treatments, and medications as prescribed by physicians, translate those notes into medical code, and electronically record the information into a national database.

The majority of medical records specialists hold a four-year Bachelor’s degree, however there are highly-specialized two-year Associate’s degree programs available for a faster track to professional employment.

Healthcare Project Manager

Healthcare project managers coordinate and oversee a healthcare program’s daily functions and procedures. For example, once a project is initiated, a healthcare project manager devises an exhaustive plan, manages those who carry out its details, and reports the overall progress of the plan from start to finish. Such projects might include but are not limited to: creating or renovating hospital units, a hiring-campaign for new doctors and/or nurses, and improving response times, mortality rates, and/or overall patient satisfaction.

Healthcare project managers should hold a Master’s degree along with other types of specific certifications related and beneficial to their particular type of healthcare facility.

Health Data Analyst

A health data analyst is a health information professional who specializes in obtaining and analyzing health-related data and research. In particular, most health data analysts may be responsible for identifying trends amongst large patient populations in order to draw conclusions that are useful for medical professionals. These patient populations may suffer from an assortment of general health problems or a specific condition and/or disease.

At minimum, to become a health data analyst a Bachelor’s degree is required, but many employers require further education and certification from the American Health Information Management Association.

Health Informatics Consultant

A health informatics consultant is a healthcare administrative professional who is responsible for streamlining a medical company’s technical organization and overall efficiency. Most health informatics consultants work either part-time for healthcare companies or are contracted for a specific length of time to solve a particular problem. They may also be responsible for training a facility’s employees to use new electronic data systems.

Health informatics consultants are required to have at least earned a Bachelor’s degree, but the majority of employers prefer candidates to hold a Master’s.

Health Informatics Director

A health informatics director is a healthcare administrator responsible for managing and supervising all of the data recording, analysis, and organization performed by a medical facility’s entire health informatics team. The position is a comparatively new one that has surfaced due to the healthcare system’s increasing reliance on electronic systems and management of patient medical records and related data.

Employers require that health informatics directors possess a Bachelor’s in health informatics, and some may even require directors to possess a medical degree (M.D.) or a doctorate.

Health Information Manager

A health information manager ensures that confidential patient information can be pulled quickly and efficiently by physicians and other hospital administrators without compromising the data’s security.

Responsible for medical coding, billing patients and their insurance companies, and managing reimbursements, if a third party such as an insurance company or a separate healthcare facility requests access to a patient’s records, health information managers are charged with the task of confirming the party’s authenticity and that the information is released securely. Health information managers are required to have at least a four-year Bachelor’s degree.

Health Information Systems Analyst

A health information systems analyst is a computer systems analyst who has received additional training to practice within the field of healthcare. They are responsible for identifying and developing computer technologies to be used by medical facilities, and they are also charged with determining what types of upgrades are necessary and adhere to that facility’s budget.

Health Information Technician

A health information technician is responsible for configuring all of the technological components of a healthcare facility’s electronic database for optimal communication between providers and their patients. A health information technician makes sure that information gets to all the places that it needs to go, clearly, completely and in a timely fashion. For example, health information technicians help to ensure that patients have access to the information they need to make optimal decisions regarding their treatment and which physicians to trust.

While health information technicians are technically required to have no more than a high school diploma, most employers prefer candidates hold an Associate’s degree with an appropriate emphasis in subject matter

Informatics Analyst

An informatics analyst is a healthcare information professional who is responsible for researching and studying data trends and incorporating the results of those analyses to provide clients with a clear understanding of their technical management systems and assorted medical and pharmacy claims.

Collaborating with healthcare administrators and doctors, informatics analysts develop regular progress and efficiency reports in order to monitor the status of patients’ health and the efficacy of their treatments. A four-year Bachelor’s degree in computer science, business, statistics, health informatics, or math is required for this career.

Informatics Educator

An informatics educator is responsible for training and educating anyone within a healthcare facility who regularly uses healthcare related computer software and technology. Informatics educators create training programs to teach informatics software and gather the necessary course materials to ensure optimal comprehension of its learners.

Informatics educators are required to hold a Bachelor’s degree in healthcare, education, healthcare technology, or nursing.

Medical Coding Specialist

A medical coding specialist is responsible for reviewing the details of patient medical charts, assessing those charts to categorize diagnoses, prescribed medications, and any procedures or treatments patients received and translate that information according to the national alphanumerical coding system.

Each diagnosis and treatment is assigned its own proper identification code, and in order to translate these charts as quickly and efficiently as possible, medical coding specialists must memorize and fluently speak the coding language. At minimum, medical coding specialists are required to earn an Associate’s degree in medical coding.

Medical Transcriptionist

A medical transcriptionist acquires the vocal recordings of physicians’ medical reports and transcribes the contents of those reports into a written format. Medical transcriptionists are responsible for reviewing and making edits to patient medical reports, and they are also trained to use software technologies that aid in speedy speech recognition.

Medical transcriptionists are certified to translate terminology and abbreviations used by medical professionals to fill out patient medical charts and discharge paperwork. Medical transcriptionists are required to hold an Associate’s degree and complete a transcriptionist certification program.

Nutrition Informaticist

A nutrition informaticist is a healthcare information professional who records, organizes, and manages all information regarding patients’ diet and nutrition. The purpose of their work is to help facilitate nutritionists as they customize dietary plans to meet each patient’s unique dietary restrictions and needs.

Other medical professionals also access this nutritional data to recommend diet changes and supplements for patients within a hospital setting. To become a nutrition informaticist, candidates are required to earn certification as a registered nutrition and dietetic technician (NDTR) or earn a Bachelor’s degree and become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) themselves.

Nurse Informaticist

A nurse informaticist is responsible for improving the accuracy of patient charting while simultaneously expediting the charting process for nurses. They are also responsible for streamlining the storage and retrieval of data so that a nurse’s time spent with his or her patients is maximized. Additionally, they train nurses to use new and/or updated health information software and technology. Nurse informaticists are required to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a current RN license.

Pharmacy Informaticist

A pharmacy informaticist is responsible for assessing the function and efficiency of pharmacies and their employment of electronic systems and technologies. Based on his or her knowledge of pharmaceutical practices and the uses for various types of medication, a pharmacy informaticist makes recommendations to healthcare and pharmacy professionals that are intended to improve methods of prescribing and selecting pharmaceutical vendors. Pharmacy informaticists are required to hold a doctorate degree in pharmacy.

Public Health Information Officer

A public health information officer is a public health policy administrator who is responsible for managing the non-confidential health records of a given community. Their duties may include electronically recording a population’s health information, organizing that information based on year, illness, and/or treatment, updating data for community demographics, and implementing systems for categorizing and reference.

Required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, journalism, or some other type of healthcare-related field, most public health information officers also hold a Master’s degree in public health.

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