Demand is growing for Information Technology in Healthcare. IT professionals looking to transition into the healthcare field have the choice between MIS and health informatics. While the two fields share many similarities, they’re also very different.
Management Information Systems (MIS) focuses on the relationship between technology, people and organizations. MIS professionals construct information systems to help companies maximize their investment in both people and technology. Those working in health information management are mainly tasked with organizing and managing patient data found in medical records. Tasks may include coding health information for reimbursement purposes and ensuring records are compliant with regulations governing patient data.
Conversely, health informatics concentrates on improving the quality and safety of patient care. This specialization centers on the use of technology in the healthcare field, by analyzing informatics concepts, theories, and practices to provide better care. Health informatics professionals are in high demand, as they are needed to assist healthcare professionals in the transition to electronic health records (EHRs) and other new healthcare technology.
5 Major Differences Between MIS and Health Informatics
Five key differences between careers in health information management (HIM) and health informatics (HI) include:
- Necessary Skills: HIM professionals typically need experience in coding and billing, regulatory requirements, medical records management, medical terminology, and standard anatomy and physiology knowledge. While HI professionals can benefit from some of the same skillsets, their job focuses more on information analysis, knowledge of system infrastructure design, and networking. They may also need to be familiar with clinical guidelines and applications.
- Job Duties: HIM workers are responsible for completing a variety of data-related tasks, such as organizing and managing the patient data in medical records, complying with standards and regulations governing health information, and ensuring health information is complete and readily available to providers. Conversely, HI workers focus on designing and developing the information systems and processes that result in higher quality data, setting standards for emerging technologies, and evaluating the impact these processes have on healthcare organizations.
- Potential Employers: While both HIM and HI professionals can find work in healthcare organizations, research laboratories, and policy organizations, the latter has a variety of other options. HI workers can find jobs at Internet companies, hardware and software vendors, consulting organizations, and more, while the only other place to grow HIM careers is accounting and legal firms.
- Salaries: HI professionals have significantly greater earning power than HIM workers. Starting HIM salaries range from $28,000 to $35,000 per year, with top salaries averaging between $80,000 to $100,000. Conversely, HI salaries start at $45,000 to $75,000, with top earners making $150,000 to $175,000 per year.
- Necessary Education: While HIM professionals may opt to earn an advanced degree, doing so isn’t necessary for most positions. However, HI professionals must have a specific skillset and level of knowledge to successfully complete the job, so many have a Master of Science in Health Informatics or a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics.
It is very important for IT professionals to closely examine the difference between HI and HIM careers, to determine which path they’re most interested in taking. Each field offers the chance to put their technical skills to work for the greater good, which can be extremely rewarding.