Clinical Informatics Specialist: Job Description and Guide

clinical informatics specialists discuss projects over a high-tech dashboard

Healthcare organizations need professionals who can manage complex data while keeping up with ever-advancing technology and industry standards. Clinical informatics specialists are responsible for this – and more. Knowledgeable in information technology (IT), these specialists combine their skills with the needs of the healthcare industry to keep data secure, clear and efficiently communicated between industry professionals.

If you are comfortable with data, have some familiarity with programming languages, and want to improve patient care from behind-the-scenes, a career as a clinical informatics specialist may be a good fit for you.

What Is a Clinical Informatics Specialist?

A clinical informatics specialist is a mid-level healthcare role; specialists both manage and analyze data to advance the quality of care for patients. In this position, you will use your healthcare and IT experience to design, modify and develop your organization’s computerized systems, keeping them running as efficiently, effectively and securely as possible.

Clinical informatics specialists are commonly responsible for building and teaching user interfaces to healthcare organization staff, implementing plans to improve patient records management systems, and facilitating communication between the IT team, healthcare providers and other stakeholders.

What Does a Clinical Informatics Specialist Do?

Your job responsibilities vary based upon the specific needs of your organization — for example, if you work for a facility that relies heavily on paper records, you may find yourself building and implementing a system to digitize the files. More commonly, the general responsibilities you can expect in this position include:

  • Designing user interfaces to store and evaluate patient and organization data.
  • Creating and implementing a plan to keep the organization’s information, digital security and registries current.
  • Troubleshooting software and hardware problems to make sure patient care runs smoothly.
  • Reviewing existing systems and suggesting improvements.
  • Training staff to remain compliant with the company’s security, data, and patient care standards.
  • Analyzing and optimizing data.
  • Documenting progress to regularly report to supervisors and stakeholders.

Salary Information for Clinical Informatics Specialists

What can you expect to make as a clinical informatics specialist? According to JobMine, a career resource created by HIMSS, the median base salary for this position is $93,730, with an overall annual salary range of $56,520 to $152,060. Several factors impact what you may make, including but not limited to: location, years of experience, and education. For example, clinical informatics specialists working in New York, N.Y. earn 52.7% more than the national average. Conversely, the same job title in Indianapolis, Indiana pays about 9.5% less than the national average.

Typically, a clinical informatics specialist with less than a year of relevant experience could expect to earn, on average, just under $71,000. Five years into the career, salaries rise to an average just over $80,000. So, how do professionals advance to the upper end of the salary scale beyond putting time in?

They, like you, may invest in a quality health informatics education. JobMine reports that 47.5% of clinical informatics professionals hold a bachelor’s degree, while only 23.4% hold a master’s degree. Advancing your education is a highly strategic way to position yourself as a more competitive candidate, as employers seek experts who bring a deeper understanding of their field to an organization.

What is the Job Outlook for Clinical Informatics Specialists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job opportunity for the clinical informatics specialist position is expected to grow by 9% by 2030, keeping pace with the national average. In terms of the actual number, this means about 34,300 openings should be created per year through 2030.

As healthcare organizations increasingly move towards new, innovative, digital-realm technologies in their systems, the demand for employees who can keep up with these advancements can only grow.

What Skills Does a Clinical Informatics Specialist Need?

It is suggested that aspiring clinical informatics specialists have experience in information technology and, preferably, a healthcare setting. Some of the most in-demand IT skills include:

  • Troubleshooting: figuring out why IT systems aren’t working properly.
  • Technology design: ensuring that equipment and programs are useful for stakeholders.
  • Programming: at least some familiarity with various programming languages, depending on the job description.
  • Data science: understanding the collection, management, analysis, and application of organization data.

Beyond IT skills, there are other strengths that employers may look for in a candidate:

  • Written and verbal communication: specialists often convey complex ideas to their broader organization audience and must be understandable.
  • Instruction: the ability to teach stakeholders how to use programs and equipment efficiently and securely.
  • Resource management: handling budgets, equipment, and the distribution of said equipment in compliance with organizational policies.
  • Healthcare insight: professional or personal experience with aspects of the healthcare industry, including legislation like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

How to Become a Clinical Informatics Specialist

To become a clinical informatics specialist, it’s suggested that you have a background in either IT or healthcare. Many positions require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Many employers also look for medical credentials or experience working in a healthcare facility, like a clinic or a hospital. To be more competitive, there are both health informatics certificate programs and master’s degree programs. These typically cover topics like digital health and data ethics and the use of integrated electronic medical records.

How USF Health Can Help Aspiring Clinical Informatics Specialists

For people with a degree and experience in the healthcare or IT industries, a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics offers the opportunity for busy professionals to launch or strengthen a health informatics career. This 100% online certificate covers critical topics like health data management, has four courses, and is a total of 12 credits.

For professionals seeking to take their credentials and education to an even more competitive level, the MS in Health Informatics offers both breadth and depth across industry topics. The course list includes medical terminology, health data management and more. You can begin with the certificate and apply those credits toward completing your MS in Health Informatics, as well.

Those with an affinity for technology, passion for health or patient care and knack for handling complex systems could thrive in a position as a clinical informatics specialist.

*National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.

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