Informatics have become such a central part of the healthcare industry in recent years that an explosion has taken place in the number of tech-related jobs in the industry.
Health information technology is one of the main drivers of job growth for those with a degree in technology-related fields. Unlike working with tech companies or startups, those in health IT are helping a mature industry integrate innovative technology to improve financial performance, operational efficiency and – most importantly – patient care.
And like every other sector of the job market, someone has to take the responsibility of being in charge. That’s why the role of Chief Informatics Officer (CIO) has emerged as a viable career path for tech experts.
Technology and Healthcare
Part of the movement into informatics began with the federal mandate for hospitals to move to electronic health records (EHRs). Now, the situation has moved beyond that government mandate.
Hospitals and other medical facilities now look to integrate technology into their operations to both improve efficiency and patient care. Some examples include:
- Implementing software systems that allow medical personnel to share critical patient information
- Wearable technology that allows for the collection of vital data on patients that can lead to better care and prevention of future issues
- Improving medical operations by reducing paperwork, sharing information across platforms and departments and reducing duplicative efforts
CIO Job Duties
For CIOs, the main focus is on the collection, maintaining and proper dissemination of patient information. While it can be summed up briefly, the job covers a lot of ground.
Now that the vast majority of medical operations have electronic medical records, a CIO leads the effort to find the best ways to collect that data, the most secure methods for storing it and also works with top executives on an overall strategy for implementing technology into an organization.
Because informatics remains a relatively new field, job duties can vary based on the operation. However, they typically include:
- Oversee the electronic health records system
- Research and offer recommendations on new, useful technologies
- Design ways to share health records between various departments or even with other agencies (for example, emergency response personnel who need to see a patient’s health records in another city)
- Overseeing the health informatics staff
- Designing and implementing processes to make the collection and sharing of data efficient while maintaining a high level of security
Job Outlook and Salary
Chief Informatics Officers are playing an important role in modern healthcare operations. However, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the primary source for salary information on jobs in the United States, has not yet added the position to its list of jobs.
The BLS does project job growth for the “medical records and health information technicians,” calling for a 15% increase in the number of those jobs. That’s much faster than the national average for job growth, which is around 7%.
Education and Training
Chief informatics officers may have a bachelor’s degree in IT or a healthcare field and years of experience in health informatics.
Because of the complex nature of the job, many employers prefer their CIO to have a master’s degree. This has led universities to offer master’s degrees in health informatics, such as the online program at the University of South Florida.