Medical Informatics

The term medical informatics refers to the use of information science and technology to improve the quality of patient care. Read on to learn more about the use of medical informatics, as well as academic and career options for students who are interested in this highly specialized field.

Is Medical Informatics for Me?

Career Overview

As a medical informatics professional, you'll use computer technology and information science to organize, analyze and interpret medical data, primarily for the purposes of storing medical records and solving healthcare problems. For instance, medical informatics can help doctors at different facilities collaborate on patient care or track the spread of infection through a hospital. Nurses and other healthcare providers use informatics to simplify the paperwork associated with patient charts and test results. Hospital administrators might track financial information to determine the profitability of a specific hospital department.

Career Options

You'll most likely need an undergraduate degree in a technical field like computer programming or information science to design and implement medical informatics systems. Potential employers may include public health organizations, medical software firms or healthcare providers. You might also be employed by insurance agencies, educational institutions and pharmaceutical companies. A formal education in a relevant field of study might also lead to a career in pharmacy work, public health, clinical care or medical research.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for health services and medical managers was projected to increase by 23% nationwide from 2012-2022, which is faster than the national average of 11% for all job sectors. In May 2013, medical and health services managers earned a median annual wage of $90,940.

As reported by the BLS, employment was expected to grow by 22% for medical records and health information technicians through 2022. In May 2013, technicians earned a median annual wage of $34,970 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Medical Informatics?

Overview of Educational Programs

Medical informatics programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Related fields of study include information technology, computing, life science and healthcare. Undergraduate programs emphasize the biomedical and natural sciences and include courses in statistics, data management, ethics and systems management.

Master's Degree Programs

A Master of Science in Health Informatics program might focus on improving access to health data and refining how technology is used in a healthcare setting. Depending on the program, you may study healthcare data and information systems, ethics and legal issues, medical terminology and the biomedical sciences.

Doctoral Programs

Core coursework found in a doctoral program can include healthcare organization and management, clinical information systems, medical databases and data privacy. Independent research and a dissertation are also required. Examples of research areas include molecular medicine, health policy, decision sciences and clinical bioinformatics.

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