As the health care field continues to grow, there is an ever-pressing need to fill positions in both the practitioner and administration roles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth in 2016 is 16 percent when compared to 2015. Business management skills are among the most highly sought after abilities by many employers. In addition to the significant increase in the need for health care managers, there is an emerging sector of health care that has pushed its way to the forefront, health informatics.
With the enactment of Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandate requiring electronic medical records (EMR) for all practitioners, the field of health informatics is taking the high road. New high-tech database tools are being used for data analysis of information on health consumers (JFF, 2012).
Furthermore, now more than ever there is an increased responsibility of IT management in health care. While many health care facilities have moved to electronic medical records, many are still working to put this feature into practice. Many hospitals still do not have online billing capabilities, which is a feature many patients have grown accustomed to. The use of EMR’s and supporting technology in health care are being used to provide more efficient and improved quality for patient care by providing treating physicians with the patient’s medical history (JFF, 2012).
Health care informatics includes a range of positions involved with the collection, handling, and processing of clinical information for a variety of purposes, from billing to medical quality assurance. It is a category that has become significantly differentiated based on skills and responsibilities, and increasingly integrated into the management of clinical care (JFF, 2012).
According to the BLS (2015), health care informatics jobs now constitute the eighth largest share of health care occupation postings and are likely to continue to grow given the trends and pressures shaping the health care industry.
Health care informatics education requirements vary, however, usually requires one or more of the following:
- B.S. in Health Care Management, Concentration: Information Technology
- Master of Science in Management, Emphases: Information Technology
- Certification in Healthcare Informatics
According to the American College of Healthcare Executives (2015), each year about 4,000 students receive degrees in health care management. As the field continues to expand and technology continues to advance the field of health care, it will be interesting to watch how health informatics develops into becoming a principal function of health care managers.
Written by Brandon Ryans, Health Care Management Program Chair