Healthcare Informatics Degrees: Bachelors, Masters & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with a degree in healthcare informatics? Find out degree requirements, online options and info on courses and healthcare informatics degrees.
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Healthcare informatics is a field of information technology focused on collecting, storing and analyzing healthcare data and information. Healthcare informatics professionals ensure the safe and efficient management of health records, such as insurance information, diagnoses, lab tests and treatment plans. In addition, at the management level, they provide solutions for effective communication between medical personnel while looking for ways to cut costs and improve data efficiency.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested pursuing entry-level and mid-level positions in healthcare information technology -Individuals seeking management positions in healthcare informatics
-IT professionals wanting to enter the healthcare field
-Healthcare professionals seeking IT instruction
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Clinical data manager ($74,000 - salary for all statisticians)*
- Medical records manager ($86,000 - salary for all medical and health service managers)*
-Systems analyst ($79,000)*
- Computer programmers ($73,000)*
- Compliance manager ($100,000)*
- Information security analyst ($78,000)*
Time to Completion 4-5 years full-time 1-2 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements No additional requirements beyond those for a typical bachelor's degree -Master's thesis or cumulative project
Prerequisites -High school diploma or associate's degree -Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *O*Net Online (May 2011 figures).

Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Informatics

The healthcare informatics degree combines computer science with the business of healthcare. You'll learn to accurately manage data, safeguard patient records and maintain organization systems. With a bachelor's degree, you can pursue a career as a clinical data manager, computer programmer or registered health information administrator. You may also develop healthcare-related applications for handheld devices and social media. Your program will also prepare you to pursue a master's degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Courses will prepare you for professional certifications that you can earn prior to graduation
  • Employment for software developers was expected to grow 30% from 2010-2020 due to increasing use of computer systems and applications*
  • You can work in many types of organizations, including hospitals, doctors' offices, managed care facilities, long-term care facilities and medical software development companies

Cons

  • You may be competing with software developers in other countries that work for lower wages
  • Systems managers may be on call at unusual hours to troubleshoot computer malfunctions
  • Both technology and healthcare policies are constantly changing and you will need to stay abreast of the latest changes and trends

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Coursework combines computer science instruction with courses in healthcare administration. Upon completion of your studies, you should understand how technology and computer systems relate to healthcare, and you should be able to apply technology to ensure that patient records are managed safely and properly. Your program may require you to take introductory health and science courses. You can expect that your program will consist of a practicum or internship. Course topics may include:

  • Medical terminology and coding
  • Healthcare law (including data management)
  • Healthcare reimbursement
  • Health data structures

Online Degree Options

Bachelor's degree programs in healthcare informatics are available online. These programs prepare students for one or more certifications, including database certification and coding certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Some programs may be self-paced, where you'll complete regular assessments based on your required readings, and online discussions. Other programs may provide online courses similar to those for on-campus programs, including health data structure, as well as coding. You will also find programs with evening and weekend classes designed for working professionals.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

There are steps you can take while you are studying that will give you a competitive edge when seeking employment.

  • Get certified. As part of your coursework, you will take courses in medical coding and information management. Those courses may prepare you for coding and data management certifications that you can pursue before you complete your bachelor's degree.
  • Look for programs with hospital affiliations. Programs that have partnerships or are affiliated with hospitals will give you access to internships and faculty that you may not find at a program without hospital affiliations.
  • Build relationships within the professional community. By volunteering and joining a professional network, you will meet people in your field and build relationships with peers, mentors and potential employers.

Alternate degree

A degree program in computer science includes similar computer-related coursework, including computer programming, systems development, data mining and database management, which you'll find in a healthcare informatics program. You can typically choose a concentration in your computer science program that may allow you to focus on healthcare informatics. Individuals with computer science degrees can gain employment in healthcare organizations as well as many other types of organizations, thus giving you greater flexibility.

Master's Degree in Healthcare Informatics

You can find the master's degree in healthcare informatics as its own degree or as part of a healthcare administration degree. This degree is for someone who may have an undergraduate degree and experience in a technical field, like radiology or nursing, and is looking to apply that knowledge to information technology. The degree is also suitable for individuals with undergraduate studies in computer science and would like to apply those skills to the field of healthcare. With a master's degree, you can move toward positions such as health information manager, information security officer and compliance manager. In addition, a master's degree in healthcare informatics will prepare you for doctoral studies.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Information security analysts, web developers and computer network architects are predicted to have a faster-than-average job growth (22% from 2010-2020)*
  • As the baby boomer generation requires more healthcare services, there will likely be a need for more health information technology managers
  • Analysts will be needed to assess the growing need to manage patient records and develop ways for smoother and more efficient processes in healthcare facilities

Cons

  • Patient information security requires a high level of accountability, which can lead to unpredictable work hours and a stressful work environment
  • Constant changes in technology and healthcare policy require you to stay abreast of changes through continuing education courses
  • Technology changes at a pace that is often much faster than a corporate culture can adjust; you may face challenges getting organizations on board with new technology

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

A major function of the master's degree is to apply technical skills in a way that will maximize efficiency and save money. Your coursework should help you learn to integrate technical processes, such as database management and patient records management, and use big-picture thinking to improve overall efficiency. You will take courses in:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Knowledge management
  • Social aspects of information technology
  • Project management

You can also expect to complete a thesis to complete the program.

Online Degree Options

You will be able to find online master's degree programs in healthcare informatics. Some programs offer replicas of their on-campus programs online, while other programs may be designed specifically for online students. Your program may or may not require a thesis. You can also find programs that offer courses on nights and weekends for working professionals.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

  • Foster your communication skills. Your job may require that you interact with doctors, nurses and other medical staff. You will need to effectively communicate the benefits of new technology as well as how to use it. Take communications courses that will help you build your interpersonal skills.
  • Join a professional organization. Many professional organizations have student chapters that you can join at discounted rates. These organizations offer mentoring programs, continuing education and conferences that will enable you to stay aware of current trends.
  • Prepare for licensing. For some positions in healthcare, particularly at long-term care facilities, you may be required by the state to be licensed. Evaluate the requirements in your state and prepare by obtaining study materials, taking practice exams and participating in internships that can count toward a work experience requirement.

Alternate Degrees

If a master's degree program in health informatics is not available, or if you prefer a degree program that may offer more career options, a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems may be a viable alternative to a degree in healthcare informatics. MBA coursework will include courses in financial accounting, operations management and other business principles that can be applied to the healthcare industry. This program is appropriate for students with a computer science background. You may find programs with a concentration in healthcare, or have the opportunity to complete an internship at a healthcare facility to add experience to your degree. You can find MBA programs that are available both online and on campus.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA/Health and Human Services - Health Care Informatics Systems
      • BS/Health Information Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Services Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
      • BS in Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Health Care Management - Health Informatics
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Health Sciences
  • Online Programs Available
    7. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Information Management
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
      • B.S. Healthcare Administration
  • Buffalo, NY

    Trocaire College

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • BA/Health and Human Services - Health Care Informatics Systems
  • BS/Health Information Management

What is your highest level of education?

Virginia College

  • Bachelor: Health Services Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • BS in Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • B.S. - Health Care Management - Health Informatics
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Trident University

  • Bachelor's - Health Sciences

What is your highest level of education completed?

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management

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Kaplan University

  • BS in Health Information Management
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin

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