A new opportunity has developed over the last few years for executive-level managers who have an interest in technology and a talent for working with computer systems: health informatics director.
This relatively new position is being added at medical facilities across the country as more medical operations make the shift from paper to electronic medical records. This sudden change is coming at the hands of the federal government, which in 2009 passed a bill that mandated the shift be completed by January 2014.
Job Duties for Health Informatics Directors
As facilities implement electronic medical records, they are turning to experts in the technology field to oversee the implementation of the new systems, as well as the training of staff on how to manage the system.
Some of these facilities list the title as Director of Medical Informatics or Medical Director of Health Informatics. Whatever the job title, the job generally involves such duties as:
- Championing the new system to doctors and other medical staff
- Addressing problems with the system raised by doctors and other medical staff
- Implementing processes that streamline reporting
- Continually reviewing the latest technology available for healthcare systems and recommending updates and changes as needed
Salary for Health Informatics Directors
The salary of a health informatics director will vary based on a number of factors such as physical location, education, the type of healthcare facility and the exact scope of the job, for example. As this is an emerging field, the U.S. Department of Labor has not yet published salary data for this profession.
According to Health Information Careers, an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) website, the 2010 biennial AHIMA salary study listed the annual median salary of a Health Information Director at $84,790 with a Baccalaureate degree and $99,224 with a Master’s degree, while IT/IS Health Information Director is listed at $105,158. The survey was given to nearly 11,000 health information professionals by AHIMA, the foremost professional organization for the field of medical record management.
In cases like this, personal research in your local market for the most accurate, up-to-date and complete information should be done.
Education Requirements for Health Informatics Directors
Some employers require the director of health informatics hold a medical degree (M.D.), doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) or a doctoral degree in addition to a degree in health informatics. Both the M.D. and D.O. degrees require four years of medical school as well as health informatics certification. However, not all employers require a health informatics director to be a doctor.
For the health informatics degree, an associate’s degree and experience were typically all that was once needed to obtain a job in this growing field. However, that is no longer the case, and certainly not at the director level. For this type of position, employers will look for candidates who have earned a graduate certificate in the field, and most likely will want a master’s level education.
In response to this demand, universities are beginning to offer courses that prepare students for the health informatics field with bachelor and master’s degrees. Many of these degree and certificate programs, such as the Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics and the Master’s degree in Health Informatics from the University of South Florida, are available both on-campus and conveniently in an online format. Coursework typically includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, coding systems, insurance and government reimbursement systems and software systems.