Health informatics professionals can be found in almost any healthcare facility, including hospitals, clinics, group practices and skilled nursing facilities. Although each of these settings has distinct characteristics, they also share many commonalities. These indoor clinical settings generally all provide direct patient care, which can range from preventative care to treatment of acute or chronic disorders to end of life care.
Health informatics staff can generally expect to work in a professional setting among other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses and other direct care providers, but typically will not be involved in direct patients care situations. They may also interact frequently with management-level staff that often set policies and procedures rather than providing direct care. Health informatics professionals may function as important collaborators in these interactions as they provide managers with decision support by promptly providing relevant information and data.
In addition, because of the overlap between health informatics and health information management as well as information technology, HI professionals also often work closely with IT staff in developing, testing and improving computer systems and programs. Health informatics professionals can also be tasked with training other healthcare workers, including nurses and doctors, on the information management policies, procedures, software and computer systems.
Some work environments, such as hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, are open 24 hours a day. This requires weekend, night and holiday staff be scheduled at all times. Other environments, such as group practices and outpatient facilities, offer more standard work schedules covering daytime hours Monday through Friday.
With a wide range of workplaces from which to choose, health informatics professionals can opt to work in a large, fast-paced hospital or smaller private practice. Regardless of the setting, health informatics professionals may speak directly with patients and family, gathering information in both clinical and non-clinical settings, depending on the individual facility, its systems and its staff's needs. In hospitals, they are likely to deal with a wide range of medical issues and patient demographics while those who work in private practice, skilled nursing facilities or Hospice facilities typically deal with more specialized information.
Regardless of the location in which a health informatics professional is employed, the specific work environment can change from day-to-day as they revolve frequently between a variety of departments and settings. These skilled professionals can expect to spend the majority of their time working with clinical staff, support staff and patients. As such, they typically alternate between the nurses’ stations, patients’ rooms, doctors’ offices and the information technology department.
Health informatics can be an ideal career for those concurrently interested in the healthcare field and in technology. It provides an opportunity to pursue a career in a variety of settings with ever changing day-to-day duties and responsibilities. It can also be a great career for those who would enjoy working with like-minded people who share their passion for improving the health and wellness of patients without providing direct patient care.