What You Should Know About This Degree
When considering this career path, it’s important to understand the difference between health informatics and health information management. While similar, they are two distinct professions.
Health informatics focuses more on developing, maintaining, and securing the systems used to record and track patient healthcare information. Health information management uses the data collected within these systems to manage and plan patient care, and has more of an administrative emphasis. Consider your interests and career goals when deciding which type of program is right for you.
Professional credentials are not currently mandatory for jobs in health informatics. However, as this is a relatively new field within healthcare management, many employers seek job candidates with credentials as an endorsement of an individual’s skills and education.
The two primary credentials for health informatics professionals are the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS) and the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS), both of which are awarded by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Both levels of credentialing require successful completion of a certification exam.
The American Medical Informatics Association is also developing the Advanced Health Informatics Certification for health informatics professionals who are practicing or seek to practice at an advanced level.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Health Informatics programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? Many health informatics master’s programs accept students from all educational backgrounds. However, some require students to have degrees or coursework in related fields like health administration or computer science. Check the program’s admissions requirements before applying to confirm that you meet their qualifications.
- Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? For online programs, there are two course delivery options. Synchronous courses meet at designated times, but students attend remotely. Asynchronous courses do not meet at set times; instead, students access lessons and submit assignments on their own schedule. If you are selecting an online program, make sure you choose one with a delivery format that works best for your availability.
As you research programs, you should keep track of when application deadlines are, and what application materials you must submit for each program. You can usually find this information on the school’s website, or by contacting their admissions department.
Financing your graduate education is another important consideration. Be sure to submit financial aid applications on time, and research other sources of funding including scholarships, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer.