Healthcare Technology Career: The Competitive Advantage for Your IT Background

Health informatics can be a great fit for information technology professionals. With the right education, IT specialists can transfer their existing skill set to take advantage of the job growth and career opportunities within the healthcare industry.

The health informatics field has grown significantly over the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down. Career opportunities for medical records and health information technicians are expected to increase by 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

With job opportunities at every level, now is a great time to transition into the healthcare IT field. These positions involve duties similar to those of database administrators and network security specialists, but are geared towards a medical setting. Should you choose this path, you may also see opportunities for management positions and career advancement.

According to CareerBuilder, this sector is currently the No. 1 choice for job opportunities in the emerging healthcare technology industry.

Health Informatics Education Can Lead to a New Career

For IT professionals interested in transitioning into the healthcare industry, a good first step is to explore the health informatics education options. Researching health IT careers can help narrow down which programs work best.

Check out the job requirements for different positions in health informatics. Not all of the positions require a degree, and those that do may be fine with a degree in a computer science-related field. Sometimes certificate programs or relevant experience are enough to be hired.

However, higher levels of education may be needed for higher positions within a healthcare facility, so it’s something to keep in mind for a long-term career path. Some certificate programs can be used for college credit if the student chooses to go on and get the degree.

How a Health Informatics Education Can Benefit IT Professionals

Employers are seeking specific skills and knowledge when hiring for health informatics positions. Here are three reasons why IT professionals should consider health informatics education:

  1. Learning Medical Terminology
    A quality health informatics program includes coursework in medical terminology, which is central to the field. Medical professionals use a lot of terms and acronyms that people outside of the industry are probably unfamiliar with. A working knowledge of the healthcare vocabulary is essential for health IT careers. Understanding medical terms may be a job requirement for some positions. Even if being fluent in medical terminology isn’t required, learning it before being hired can make the transition easier when doctors start talking about “CE” (Covered Entity) and “MU” (Meaningful Use).
  2. Get Familiar With Electronic Health Records
    Healthcare providers are switching from paper to electronic health records (EHRs), and many are facing barriers in implementing the changeover. Knowing the different types and benefits of available EHR software will help the IT department to find best solution for the healthcare facility’s needs. Getting to learn the software behind EHR implementation may be nothing new to an IT professional, but that’s only part of larger picture. Learning about privacy concerns and legislation compliance that are unique to EHR are just as important as understanding the software.
  3. Competitive Advantage
    If a healthcare facility is considering two prospective IT employees with similar skill sets, education can help provide an edge. Even for people who have never worked in healthcare, having a health informatics education will show that the candidate has working knowledge of the industry. Getting an education also shows commitment to keeping up with the latest technologies. As health informatics evolves and legislation changes, having an education can help IT professionals understand the industry’s current needs and solve potential problems.

Salary and Education

Starting out as a health informatics specialist, you can expect to earn about $43,600 on average and a maximum of $106,000 over the course of your career. Professionals with an associate’s degree will typically earn less than peers with master’s degrees.

A college education is needed to develop the skills needed to achieve success in health informatics. In addition, educational programs have been designed to prepare IT professionals for work in the health sector. Certificate courses, such as the Graduate Certificate Health Informatics provided by USF’s Morsani College of Medicine, provide a faster way to explore the field and typically include classes on medical records and information technology. In this sector, you can expect to work with people who have extensive knowledge of medical coding, medical billing and the operation of a medical database.

Demand Continues to Increase for Healthcare Informatics Professionals

Currently, 442,290 professionals are employed in health informatics, but as mentioned above, the demand continues to grow. A majority of those already employed are working in hospitals, medical clinics, doctor’s offices and nursing care facilities. Some work for medical research companies. A minimum of 78,000 jobs are expected to open within the next year, a number showing that health informatics is quickly becoming a large portion of IT in the health industry.

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