Health informatics is a term that describes the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of healthcare information to foster better collaboration among a patient’s various healthcare providers. Health informatics plays a critical role in the push toward healthcare reform.
Health informatics is an evolving specialization that links information technology, communications and healthcare to improve the quality and safety of patient care.
Differentiating from Health IT
Though the concept of health IT includes the use of technology in healthcare, health informatics is not synonymous with health IT. Instead, informatics is “the science, the how and why, behind health IT,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health informatics applies informatics concepts, theories, and practices to real-life situations to achieve better health outcomes. This includes collecting, storing, analyzing, and presenting data in a digital format.
Working in the Field
The tremendous growth in the health informatics field was spurred in large part by the acceleration of electronic health record (EHR) adoption brought about by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ “meaningful use” incentive program.
As providers moved quickly to embrace EHRs, which are designed to store and share information from all providers involved in a patient’s care, health informatics specialists will continue to help healthcare facilities implement new systems, upgrade existing databases and work toward the development of a fully interoperable healthcare system.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 13% through 2026, nearly double the average growth rate for all occupations in the U.S.
Job titles in this industry include:
- Nurse Informaticists
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- Chief Medical Information Officer
- Director of Clinical Informatics
- Clinical Data Analyst
- Health IT Consultants