Ahead of the Curve: Health Informatics Specialist

Health informatics is an umbrella term for a range of careers.

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Health Informatics Specialist/Manager. "The job market for health informatics people is absolutely out of sight," exclaims Merida Johns, founding director of the graduate program in Health Informatics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. And it's no surprise: Hospitals, insurers, and regional collaboratives are switching to electronic medical records. Nurses and doctors, urged to do more evidence-based medicine, are using computerized expert systems to guide their diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Healthcare providers are also collecting more data to evaluate quality of care.

Health informatics is an umbrella term for a range of careers. No surprise, there are many opportunities for techies, but there also are ample options for people persons. For example, as a health information systems analyst, you speak with physicians, nurses, and others to identify their needs and develop a blueprint to hand to the programmers for implementation. If you get a bachelor's in health information management or a bachelor's in anything plus a master's in health information management, you're likely to have a good, secure job waiting that will play a crucial role in improving the quality of American healthcare.

More info: American Health Information Management Association. Among other things, it lists the 200 accredited training programs. Some of the better-regarded ones include: Ohio State University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Utah, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of Illinois-Chicago, Stanford University, University of Oregon Medical Center, and University of Washington.

Also for more info: American Medical Informatics Organization, and Health Information Management Technology: An Applied Approach, Second Edition edited by Merida Johns.