Health informatics ranks high among the most quickly growing career fields in the United States. Due to the constant evolution of informatics platforms and software—combined with the popularity of going “paperless” among medical facilities—skilled professionals who are adept at using the newest technologies are invaluable in today’s job market. With an online master’s degree in health informatics, health information technicians can gain a competitive advantage when applying to entry-level roles or may advance in their careers more quickly.
On this page, we take a look at what an online master’s degree program in health informatics covers. We also pinpoint the highest-ranking online health informatics master’s degree programs. Take a peek to see if this degree would be a great fit for you and find a list of qualified intuitions.
What to Know About Online Master’s in Health Informatics Coursework
An online master’s degree program in health informatics teaches students how to properly acquire, store, analyze, retrieve and use healthcare information to drive improved collaboration among patients’ medical care providers, such as nurses and doctors. The online program covers a variety of topics, such as electronic health records, informatics-related legal issues, medical information systems, data architecture/ modeling and the security of healthcare information systems.
Online program students can expect to receive the same type of instruction and to experience the same learning outcomes as they would in a traditional health informatics program.
What’s the Difference Between a Master’s in Health Informatics and an MBA in Health Informatics?
A health informatics MBA program typically offers more business-related concentration areas (for example, human resources, finance, marketing or economics). An MBA in health informatics is generally more focused on business administration concepts than a master’s degree in health informatics is.
What Common Courses are Offered in a Master’s in Health Informatics Program?
Check out these five sample courses that you may have to take as part of an online health informatics master’s degree program.
Health Care Administration
In this course, students learn about the organization and framework of the healthcare management system. They also explore some of the system’s common problems.
American Health Care
This course teaches students about the complicated and continuously changing healthcare system in the United States. In this course, students study the system’s history, its current functions and how it might change even more in the years ahead.
Health Informatics Fundamental Concepts
This course provides a glimpse at both the practical and the theoretical concepts that form the foundation of this field. Through this course, students will come to understand the “why” and “how” of information and communication systems associated with informatics.
Law, Ethics & Society in Health Informatics
This course covers the ethical, legal and social issues linked to the field of health informatics. In the course, students can expect to examine case studies and learn what is legally required when it comes to handling patient data. They also learn about ethical decision-making in the complex field of analytics.
Health Care Databases: Design, Development & Clinical Application
This course exposes students to the development, design and implementation of database systems in healthcare. Students learn about the important role that database applications play in regulatory compliance and quality improvement.
What Specializations are Available in a Master’s in Health Informatics Program?
Some online master’s degree programs in health informatics allow students to select specializations. These specializations may include, for example, health administration informatics, clinical informatics and health technology informatics.
Take a look at a few common master’s degree in health informatics specializations below.
Health Administration Informatics
This specialization is an ideal choice for students interested in management, administrative or business roles in healthcare, including in medical facilities, insurance companies, the government or technology firms. Students delve into subjects such as medical organization operations, consumer eHealth and critical thinking in healthcare.
With this specialization, students focus on mastering content that the American Medical Informatics Association has approved. Students explore topics such as health information technology standards, healthcare decision-making, telecommunications networks, and data and analytics.
Health Technology Informatics
This specialization is designed for students who are interested in information technology concepts such as Web development and information system coordination, even beyond the medical field. Students who choose this specialization learn about analytics techniques, information systems–related project management and the design and implementation of database systems.
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
In an online master’s degree in health informatics, students might be required to take part in brief on-campus seminars or sessions. In addition, students in some programs may have to complete internships or practicums, during which they undergo hands-on training under expert supervision. Students may furthermore be expected to complete a capstone project or master’s thesis that allows them to demonstrate all that they have absorbed in the program. For instance, in a project, they may be required to solve a potential health informatics issue using their skills related to risk management, project management and data acquisition.
How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master’s in Health Informatics Program?
With so many health informatics programs available, deciding the best one for you can understandably be a challenge. Students who want to increase their employment opportunities should choose a program that is regionally or nationally accredited. However, some programs are also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Attending a CAHIIM-accredited program makes students eligible for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Registered Health Informatics Administrator, or RHIA, certification. Earning this certification demonstrates that a student has met the AHIMA’s stringent professional standards. The best health informatics programs provide students with a comprehensive education that highlights a variety of aspects of the field, as this qualifies them for a wide range of roles in the industry.
Career Opportunities with a Master's in Health Informatics Degree
An online master’s degree in health informatics will provide you with the skills you need to thrive in a wide range of job positions in this industry. Here are a few of them.
This professional is charged with planning and administering a company’s program in clinical informatics. This includes turning clinical data into information that medical care professionals can access.
Median Salary: $98,350 per year
Currently Employed: 352,200
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 20%
This individual is responsible for regulating and improving clinical standards and practices within their organizations. Part of their job involves optimizing their organizations’ clinical information systems and workflow.
Median Salary: $88,270 per year
Currently Employed: 600,500
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 9%
This professional processes medical records and sends medical records, such as charts, when necessary. A registered health information technician also checks records for completion and accuracy and also organizes medical records to produce patient abstracts.
Median Salary: $39,180 per year
Currently Employed: 206,300
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 13%
This high-ranking professional is responsible for maintaining their organizations’ security protocols. This individual creates strategies for increasing Internet and network security associated with various projects.
Median Salary: $ 95,510per year
Currently Employed: 100,000
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 28%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
What’s the Expected Job Outlook for Health Informatics Careers?
As indicated above, the health informatics sector will remain in high demand over the next 10 years. A main reason for this is that the aging population in the United States will demand more healthcare services, which means that organizations will increasingly depend on health informatics professionals to organize these patients’ medical information in electronic health records. In addition, in the area of information security, health organizations will increasingly rely on highly skilled security professionals to guard them against cyberattacks, an increasing problem for companies.
Professional Organizations for Careers in Health Informatics
In addition to completing an online master’s degree in health informatics, students may benefit from joining professional organizations for networking purposes. Here are a few that are worth considering.
- American Nursing Informatics Association This organization, also known as the ANIA, is the home of the Journal of Informatics Nursing. This quarterly publication made its debut in 2016. The ANIA has 18 regional chapters throughout the United States and hosts a yearly conference for all of its members.
- American Health Information Management Association Both professionals and seeking AHIMA certification can access study guides and practice tests by joining this association. They can also take advantage of online workshops and discussion groups.
- Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society This society, established in 1961, currently represents around 70,000 individual members as well as over 450 nonprofits. Also called HIMSS, this society provides e-courses, recorded conference sessions and digital publications in addition to offering two certifications.
How to Pay for a Master’s in Health Informatics Degree
For many students, graduate school can present a financial burden. Those interested in completing a master’s degree program in health informatics can certainly seek federal government loans to help them to cover the cost of college. However, scholarships are another excellent source of financial aid. Here are several scholarship options for graduate students studying health informatics.
Many organizations offer health informatics scholarships to prospective students. For example, the Charlotte Stockton Memorial Scholarship is available annually and is for $1,500. Students who are studying health informatics at the graduate level and at a program approved by the CAHIIM are eligible to apply. They must have a grade point average of 3.0, live in Florida and demonstrate financial need. The Evelyn Freeman Scholarship Fund. is available through the Tennessee Health Information Management Association. A total of $1,000 is given annually to a student. A student who is in his or her final year of a master’s degree is eligible to receive it as long as he or she is a Tennessee resident and attends a Tennessee school that is accredited by the CAHIIM. And the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Scholarships sponsors a $5,000 scholarship for a master’s degree student who is studying health information management or health informatics full time. To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be members of the society and attend an accredited school in the United States.
Many schools offer scholarships to students enrolled in their health informatics programs. For example, Duke University offers a scholarship to eligible students who are earning their master of science in health informatics. Prospective students should ask each university what scholarship options are available.