What is Health Informatics?
Health informatics is the application of computer science and information technology to the many different facets of health care. Sometimes referred to as health care informatics, medical informatics or biomedical informatics, the goal of health informatics is to improve patient outcomes, create greater efficiencies in health care systems, accelerate research, solve public health challenges and empower individuals to use data to improve their own health.
From your smartwatch, to advanced medical research centers, to agencies working to prevent global pandemics, health informatics is at the heart of 21st century health care. As a rapidly expanding field, it also offers incredible opportunities for those with advanced training in computer science to succeed while improving the lives of countless others.
Areas of Health Informatics
Health informatics impacts every sector of health care, leading to an increase in specialization in the industry. From your doctor’s office to the research lab to the newest cutting-edge tech startup, these are just a few of the career opportunities available in health informatics:
- Health Care Informatics – Sometimes referred to as clinical informatics, health care informatics deals with electronic health records (EHR) including medical imaging in a clinical setting. Health care informatics requires an understanding of both health care management and data security. Health care informatics can also include specific disciplines such as nursing informatics, dental informatics and pathology informatics.
- Biomedical Informatics – Sometimes referred to as bioinformatics, biomedical informatics uses data science, artificial intelligence and other technologies to solve health care challenges at the cellular, genetic and molecular level. Biomedical informatics is unlocking new ways to prevent disease and find new cures with greater speed and accuracy than ever before.
- Research Informatics – This branch of health informatics uses computer science to facilitate and improve biomedical and health research. Research informatics includes translational informatics, which connects research from the laboratory to the bedside to widespread clinical practice.
- Public Health Informatics – Specialists in public health informatics use health care data to track, report and predict population health trends and solve public health challenges at a community, national and global level.
- Consumer Health Informatics – Specialists in consumer health informatics use technology to enhance health care by improving public health literacy, connecting consumers to health care resources, letting consumers track and use personal health data and helping consumers manage and improve their own health outside of a clinical setting.
If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities in the field, visit our Health Informatics Careers page.
Health Informatics Industry Trends
An aging population, a demand for greater efficiency in the healthcare space and an increasingly interconnected world are just a few of the factors powering the growth of health informatics. Perhaps that’s why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that growth for health information technicians will grow twice as fast as overall employment. According to the BLS, salaries in health informatics can vary. While health informatics professionals with a bachelor’s degree can earn around $40,000 to 60,000 per year, those with higher skill levels and a master’s degree can see their earnings start at $80,000 and go up from there.
In addition, future-facing health technologies such as using AI to speed clinical research, wearable robotics, bioprinting human tissue, and nanomedicine all require vast quantities of data to be applicable and scalable. Having computer scientists skilled in health informatics will be critical to the growth of these new developments.
What Do You Learn in Health Informatics?
Studying health informatics requires a multidisciplinary education that involves both a grounding in computer science and health care. Students studying health informatics receive training in topics including data analytics, human-computer interaction, social network analytics and more. To supplement their health care industry education, students may also take classes through their nursing and medical schools or school of public health.
Depending on their area of interest, students may also benefit from training in other areas of computing and information science. For example:
Health Informatics Graduate Programs at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics
Whether your focus is health care or computer science, understanding health informatics can be a valuable addition to your professional skills set and a great way to advance in your career. Ranked among the top 10 programs in the nation, Drexel’s online Master’s in Health Informatics offers an interdisciplinary, broad-based curriculum that encourages engagement with the industry and fosters both research-based and experiential learning.
We understand that every student’s needs are different, that’s why we offer three different online options for studying health informatics including a Master of Science, a Graduate Minor and a stackable certificate option as a pathway to your degree. This flexibility lets you customize your degree program so you can focus on the areas of study that have the most bearing on your career path and industry.
A master’s degree in health informatics prepares you for specialized roles within a variety of industries. Therefore, it’s important to choose a program of study that leads in the field. Drexel is a charter member of the American Medical Informatics Association, and our master's degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).