Online Health Informatics Bachelor’s Degree
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Due to rapid changes in government regulations and the urgent health concerns of an aging baby boomer population, healthcare occupations represent some of the fastest-growing careers in the United States. With an accredited health informatics online degree, students take on supporting roles in healthcare organizations, maintaining organizational records and helping patients find affordable health services. Bachelor's credentials also prepare students for advanced college academics.
This guide provides the in-depth information prospective students need to find the best online colleges and universities. Students gain insight on the health informatics major, including program structures, course offerings, and core skills. They also explore diverse career options available to students in this field.
What is Health Informatics?
The best online health informatics degrees prepare students to oversee patient information and help physicians provide effective care to all patients. In 2009, the federal government passed the HITECH Act, which promotes the expansion of health information technology as the foundation for U.S. healthcare reform. Consequently, hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies increasingly require skilled health informatics professionals to keep up with the demand for information security, analysis, and management.
Career opportunities in this industry continue to expand drastically. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that health information technician positions will grow 13% through 2026, adding approximately 27,800 jobs. Community health education careers are slated to grow 16%, which translates to over 19,000 jobs. Health services managers benefit from a 20% increase, or more than 72,000 new positions.
By pursuing health informatics online, degree candidates gain a broad skill set that enables them to access careers outside the healthcare field. Students can seek positions in general information technology, working as network administrators, computer systems analysts, and information research scientists. The BLS projects that information security analyst positions will expand 28%, making it one of the fastest-growing careers in the nation. Students can also apply their big data skills in business settings and occupy roles as human resource specialists and digital marketing agents.
Even within the health informatics field, diverse academic options exist beyond the generalist degree plan. Students may pursue concentrations in information systems, healthcare policy, cybersecurity, and data analysis. They can also prepare for leadership roles by focusing their training on project management.
What Can I Do with an Online Health Informatics Bachelor's Degree?
The following section covers core competencies embedded into undergraduate health informatics online degree plans. However, academic structure and focus vary by program, and students should always confirm specifics with their prospective schools' academic advisers before pursuing enrollment. In this section, students will also learn how core skills apply in diverse fields and industries, like hospitals, outpatient care centers, and government agencies. Furthermore, they explore individual career opportunities in greater detail, including salary potential and entry requirements.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
To earn an accredited online health informatics degree, students must complete at least 120 credits of general education requirements, prerequisite classes, major coursework, and electives. Generally, undergraduate students can expect a minimum of 30 credits of core major coursework, including classes like medical terminology, pharmacology, healthcare delivery systems, and coding and classification. Practicum requirements, like internships, are uncommon in this field, but students can expect a capstone experience to round out the curriculum.
Bachelor's in health informatics programs typically prepare students to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator exam facilitated by the American Health Information Management Association. Because examination success represents a key goal for these programs, learning outcomes tend to match the content found on the test. To this end, health informatics students can expect to develop skills in data application, information analysis, and systems management. Learners also cultivate a keen understanding of the U.S. healthcare system; related laws, policies, and fiscal regulations; and healthcare ethics.
Health informatics majors apply data structure and standards to create efficient clinical classification systems and reimbursement processes. They learn to analyze healthcare data and present findings that help employers improve services and lower operating costs, all while abiding by governmental guidelines. Students also develop administrative skills like maintaining network health, granting user access, and protecting sensitive information from intrusions and attacks.
As learners pursue their online degree in health informatics, they should proactively work toward concrete career goals. For example, if a student wants to work in human resources, they should seek out advanced classes in employment law, organizational theory and behavior, and workforce management. If their professional interests lie in the nonprofit sector, they should consider specialized topics like healthcare quality, population health, and concepts of health promotion and equity.
Careers and Salary Potential
Although online degrees in health informatics train candidates in a standard set of competencies, their usage differ based on industry and employer. This subsection details how health information management skills apply in settings like a physician's office or a nursing department. As previously mentioned, students gain broad skills in this field, which they may apply in areas like business administration, information security, and entrepreneurship. These adjacent career opportunities can require additional degree work and/or professional certification.
- Hospitals: As one of the major health informatics employers, hospitals require detail-oriented professionals who can develop information systems to organize vast electronic patient records. Effective health information management also helps hospitals locate and eliminate unnecessary spending.
- Physicians' Offices: Like hospitals, physicians offices employ health informatics professionals to maintain and secure information. Because these offices support fewer patients, they can pay closer attention to each individual and use information systems to create treatment plans and connect patients to external services.
- Nursing: Informatics is a rapidly evolving subfield in the nursing industry. In this context, health informatics professionals aggregate, distill, and communicate information that helps nurses provide better patient-centered care.
- Government: Health informatics professionals can occupy diverse positions in government agencies, working as compliance officers, policy coordinators, and program consultants. They can also work in specialized settings like rural health to help patients in underserved communities find accessible care.
- Outpatient Care Centers: Increased patient participation represents one of the major goals for the U.S. healthcare system. By working in outpatient care centers, health informatics specialists can create knowledge databases and self-service applications that enable patients to learn about their condition, monitor treatment, and speak to physicians on their own schedule.
Medical and Health Services Managers
Annual Median Salary: $98,350
These leaders coordinate the health and medical services for a department or an entire facility. Health services managers implement projects that improve healthcare quality and efficiency. They also perform administrative duties, create budgets, and train employees.
Clinical Informatics Specialist
Annual Median Salary: $75,571
Working in hospitals and clinics, these professionals build health information interfaces and teach clinical staff how to properly use them. Clinical informatics specialists also monitor information usage for stability and interference.
Clinical Informatics Manager
Annual Median Salary: $90,539
Clinical informatics managers oversee a health organization's entire information network, including the user interface platform, front-facing software, and inter-building networks and databases. They ensure applications and services align with industry standards and government regulations. Like other managers, these professionals also select, train, and coordinate staff.
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