What is healthcare informatics?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it is the interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption, and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management, and planning. Health informatics technology includes the electronics and information technology used during the course of patient care. A practice also known as clinical informatics. Healthcare informatics provides electronic access to medical records for patients, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance companies, and health information technicians.
What is healthcare administration?
Also called health administration and medical administration, it involves making both daily and long-term decisions that reflect the healthcare system’s business strategies. The American College of Healthcare Executives calls healthcare management a “hidden” career since it is one of the last things to come to mind when most people think of medical services. The field continues to focus on the business and financial aspects of hospitals, clinics, and other health services, with particular focus placed on efficiency and financial stability.
People love choices. Walk down the cereal aisle of any supermarket and this will prove the power of choices. Does one of the degrees offer more choices?
A minimum of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is required for most positions in health informatics. It is one of the more technical and business-oriented professions in the medical healthcare industry. Those with basic knowledge and skills of medical coding, medical billing and the operational aspects of a medical database, will have the highest advancement opportunities. Several undergraduate and graduate degrees provide the education for a career in this field. Some of these include:
- Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics
- Bachelor of Information Technology
- Bachelor of Science Business—Information Technology Management
- Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics
- Master of Science in Medical Informatics
- Master of Health Informatics
- Master of Management in Medical Informatics
A degree is not mandatory for some health informatics positions, such as health information management clerks. However, a degree will qualify you for more positions.
To work in healthcare administration, there are also degree choices at both levels. These include:
- Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Leadership
- Bachelor of Science in Health Services Management
- Master of Health Administration
- Master of Health Policy and Management Executive
- Master of Business Administration
These lists are not inclusive. There are more degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. As you peruse these choices, you may wonder if you are more suited to informatics or administration. Neither is beneficial if it doesn’t suit your interests and career aspirations.
A degree in informatics will be more beneficial to students who enjoy computer science and mathematics. For example, a course titled Introduction to Informatics encapsulates the study plan. This class examines the topics of problem-solving with information technology, introductions to information representation, relational databases, system design, propositional logic, and innovative technologies. Additional subjects in this class study operating systems, networks, information technology (including web page design), word processing, and databases.
If you lean toward information science, computer science, analytics, and information evaluation, then this degree may be beneficial. This degree may suit the individual who feels more comfortable working behind the scenes. Health informatics professionals typically work in the background gathering and analyzing data. The gathered data equips other medical professionals with the knowledge to improve patient care, clinical decision-making, and public health.
A degree in healthcare administration may appeal to those whose interests are in management, healthcare laws, risk management, regulations, and strategic planning. Students who seek a career in a leadership role will benefit from this degree. If your personality thrives on communications, working with people, and community service, then you may prefer this degree.
If you are undecided on which degree is best, then money could be the deciding factor.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report on the occupation of healthcare informatics. They do have data for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. The BLS states the median salary at $39,180 as of May 2017 without a degree. The employment site, Glassdoor, reports the median salary at $48,529 based on only 827 submissions. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) reports the health informatics salary for this career path to be in the upper $80,000’s.
The BLS does have data for Medical Health Service Managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators. This group has a median salary of $98,350 as of May 2017, with a bachelor’s degree. In addition, the BLS projects the job growth at 20% through 2026 or the change in 72,100 jobs. These numbers seem to favor the health administration degree.