The field of health information technology is experiencing exponential growth as the healthcare industry responds to the federal mandate (Affordable Care Act) for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to implement electronic medical records. The growing demand for health information management degrees is partially due to the role that informatics plays in driving changes in healthcare information delivery that are meant to ultimately lead to improved patient care.
In addition, health informatics paves the way for healthcare organizations to take advantage of financial incentives from the federal government after converting to electronic health records. However, the biggest driver of growth in this field is the quickly approaching January 2014 federal deadline for healthcare providers to implement electronic medical records for health information and insurance exchanges.
These changes, opportunities and requirements have left healthcare organizations with a lot at stake, which has led to a massive increase in demand for health informatics professionals. Organizations will also need highly qualified and educated health informatics professionals to lead these teams and direct health informatics initiatives.
One of the best ways to be prepared to take advantage of this tremendous career opportunity is to pursue higher education in health informatics. According to HICareers.com, one out of three healthcare employers considers a master’s degree in health informatics to be more valuable than any other graduate degree. While there are several colleges and universities that offer a health informatics certificate, the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida Health stands apart as the only medical school in the country that offers a Master of Science in Health Informatics as well as a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics, all 100% online.
Earning a master’s degree in health informatics, currently the highest level of education for this field, gives students a tremendous advantage in career opportunities and advancement. The distinction of earning a degree from one of the nation’s leading medical schools and top research institutions will also be a tremendous asset to those who complete the degree program.
Because the program is offered by the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, its focus is on the practical integration of health informatics with modern healthcare delivery. In addition, students have the advantage of learning from trained clinicians who have experience working in hospitals, emergency rooms and other clinical environments and have real-world insight into the tools and skills required for making important decisions in a healthcare setting. This is a substantial benefit when compared to other programs where the instruction does not come from actual medical staff.
Students enrolled in the health informatics degree program at USF Health must complete 11 courses, or 32 credit hours. Other programs require 12 to 15 courses, or 33 to 45 credit hours, which means that USF Health students can earn their degree in less time and at a lower total cost. Students can complete their degree on their terms. The program is offered online, giving busy working professionals additional flexibility and career advantages to pursuing their master's degree online.
By taking courses in electronic medical records management, health information systems, healthcare decision support analysis, health sciences and e-business models, students will finish their degree with a well-rounded and thorough foundation in designing, using and integrating healthcare and information management systems.
The curriculum will prepare students to take on leadership roles in a variety of healthcare settings involving an array of roles and responsibilities. Potential career choices include health informatics director, chief medical information officer, health informatics consultant, clinical data analyst, nursing informatics specialist, health information resource manager, health information system application designer and compliance officer. Prospective students are encouraged to explore additional resources to determine their local market, competition and specific opportunities available.
By earning a Master of Science in Health Informatics degree from a prestigious and nationally recognized medical school, such as the University of South Florida Health’s Morsani College of Medicine, students can position themselves to play an integral and influential role in developing new solutions and implementing advanced technologies that will change the face of healthcare tomorrow and for years to come.