SmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. #Path2W is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers and non-traditional students. Florida Polytechnic University in a recurrent series will help us shine a light on 21st century careers. In this blog post, we learn more about health informatics.
The field of health informatics improves patient care and creates better healthcare solutions through gathering and analyzing data. Professionals in this field, typically called informaticists, work in a variety of positions including: Nurse Informaticist, Chief Medical Information Officer, IT Consultant, Clinical Data Analyst and Director of Clinical Informatics.
With the government shift from paper to electronic health records, the health informatics industry is thriving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in this field to increase by 15% in 2020. This number is much faster than the average for other occupations.
Trends in health informatics
The Affordable Care Act, one of the most comprehensive reforms to the US healthcare system in the last 50 years, had a large impact on the medical industry by requiring all medical records to be electronic. This, in turn, opened up an increased reliance on data in the medical field and carved out the new, exciting health informatics career. Science and technology’s role in health informatics continues to dominate industry trends. New trends uncovered by informaticists create better protocols for treating patients, which results in better outcomes. After implementing the ACA, the US Department of Health and Human Services found that hospital re-admissions fell by 17.5% in 2013, due to the better quality of care patients were receiving.
Improving patient care through technology
Health informatics creates a better patient experience through their evaluation of electronic health records. Some of the advancements made possible through EHR include better understanding of medical trends, increased diagnosis accuracy and heightened security around medical records. Health informatics also decreases the rate of human error through improved tracking of drug interactions, allergies and side effects.
For patients, EHRs are vastly improving the quality of healthcare by making records more accessible for both patients and professionals. By their nature, EHR are easier to transmit than paper records, viewed in remote locations and updated in real-time. The records contain complete, up-to-date information about patients at the point of care. The shift to electronic health records provide a clear diagnosis and complete documentation for patients, decreasing room for error.
Because of health informatics’ high demand, hands-on learning in health technology is booming at college universities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 6,000 health informatics careers will be added to the job market each year. Universities are responding to the demand by creating new healthcare informatics degree programs that blend technical instruction and medical training with a hands-on experience.
STEM-focused universities offer a more pragmatic health informatics education than traditional universities. STEM students think critically and apply textbook concepts to real-world problems, which help them fully understand what our health care system lacks.
The field of health informatics is creating employment opportunities at unprecedented rates. With the Baby Boomer generation going into retirement, the need for experts in the field continues to increase. A career in health informatics is great for those interested in a rewarding STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career dedicated to improving our health care system and patient care.
Lauren Willison is the Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University.