Health informatics is one of the fastest-growing fields in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is estimated to grow by 10% over the next decade, and professionals with a unique mix of IT skills and healthcare knowledge are rewarded with competitive salaries.
Ultimately, healthcare systems have unique IT needs, from data governance issues to predictive analytics to web-based systems. Master’s in health informatics programs provide niche training to prepare graduates for a variety of jobs in this burgeoning industry.
How much can you earn having masters in health informatics? These are some of the most common job titles and median salaries for masters in health informatics:
Depending on the job title, a master’s in health informatics graduate can earn between $83,000 (Clinical Analyst) and $104,000 (Health Information Manager). In the mid-range, Information Systems analysts and IT Consultants earn about $93,000.
Health informatics is a booming field combining healthcare principles with data analytics and technology. A health informatics professional leverages digital patient records and treatment data and helps healthcare organizations compile and analyze that information to improve patient outcomes.
Here are some of the ways that health informatics is used to improve patient care:
Patient Alerts – Health informatics professionals develop alert systems that provide real-time updates about patient health. These systems notify doctors of urgent events and ensure that those alerts are responded to in a timely fashion.
Predictive Analytics – Data analytics have been increasingly used in healthcare. Health informatics professionals build predictive systems that can model healthcare outcomes and help providers to identify the correct treatment more efficiently.
Virtual Care – Many health informatics professionals help providers launch and maintain web-based solutions like virtual visits, online applications, and new patient systems.
Data Management – Healthcare providers produce a wide range of data in many different file types like CT scan images or text-based patient records. Health informatics specialists help providers organize, normalize, and analyze these disparate data sources.
Data Security – Many health informatics professionals work on improving data security. Today, patient records are shared across many devices; a health informatics specialist helps to keep sensitive patient information secure across platforms.
IT and data science are increasingly powerful tools in healthcare. Health informatics professionals act as IT translators across healthcare provider organizations; they help build, maintain, and leverage data and IT systems to communicate avenues to improve patient care.
These data science salaries, whether you have a master’s in health informatics or not, will vary by seniority, location, and across different companies.
Health informatics master’s programs offer a wide range of specializations. These focus areas offer in-depth training in data governance issues and techniques unique to the healthcare industry, and allow you to tailor your education to what interests you most.
A master’s program might offer training on healthcare IT security, for example, with coursework that introduces students to data governance best practices and technology. Other programs might focus on healthcare analytics, providing training on building robust preventative systems that help providers make diagnoses faster.
Some of the core topics of a master’s in health informatics program include:
For example, Columbia’s Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) offers programs to set the path for design of clinical information systems, methodologies in clinical natural language processing, and machine learning over electronic health record data.
Health informatics master’s programs prepare students for a wide range of careers. These programs are often a requirement for healthcare IT management positions and provide training for specialized technical roles like security analyst or informatics specialist. These jobs most commonly fall into four categories, listed below with specific examples:
Informaticists – These positions which include roles like health informatics specialist, or informatics nurse – are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and organizing clinical data.
Example: Health Informatics Specialists– Informatics specialists are part IT pros and part data analysts. They maintain and monitor healthcare IT systems to ensure proper performance. But they are also skilled analysts. For example, an informatics specialist might monitor the impact an organizational change had on length of in-patient stay, or seek to identify which treatments resulted in the shortest stays.
Data analysts– Similar in scope to informaticists, data analysts are responsible for analyzing clinical data. One difference: data analysts typically use data science techniques and machine learning to build predictive analytics systems and alert systems.
Example: Informatics Analyst– Informatics analysts design data models and predictive analytics systems that explore potential healthcare outcomes. For example, an informatics analyst might use a predictive model to estimate the distribution of outcomes for a new treatment. Analysts may also be responsible for database management and developing data collection systems.
Administrators– Master’s programs in health informatics often provide leadership training to prepare for organizational management and healthcare administration roles. Many informatics jobs fall into these categories, such as medical and health information manager or chief information officer.
Example: Informatics Manager– Informatics managers oversee healthcare data systems, and provide cross-departmental training on informatics. Managers also supervise and oversee the direction of informatics for a healthcare network, and oversee the development, deployment, and maintenance of informatics architecture.
Information Technology– Many informatics roles fall under the IT umbrella, including software developers, network managers, and web security specialists. These positions tend to command some of the highest paying salaries in health informatics.
Example: Healthcare IT Project Manager– An IT project manager oversees the deployment and integration of data collection and informatics systems across a healthcare network. PMs are responsible for proposing plans, overseeing the design and build of systems, and ensuring long-term performance.
Many potential master’s students want to know about the payoff of health informatics degrees. Should they invest the time and resources in these programs? Take a final look at the many benefits these programs have to offer you.
For one, a master’s degree will make you more competitive and provide domain-specific training. This is important in health informatics, where many roles require IT and technical skills PLUS a strong understanding of healthcare systems. Therefore, if you’re interested in specialized informaticist roles, a master’s degree is often a preferred qualification (if not a requirement).
Similarly, a master’s degree is often required for leadership roles in healthcare informatics. For example, roles like Chief Information Officer and Health Informatics Director would both typically require advanced training or a master’s degree. Ultimately, pursuing a master’s in health informatics comes down to your career goals and interests. Those who excel in these programs are:
As mentioned above, health informatics careers require many technical skills, including SQL and/or Python. Fortunately, these coding languages can be learned at your own pace.
Interview Query has several resources to help you learn SQL, Python and data analysis skills that are useful in health informatics careers. Check out these resources to continue learning: