Health informatics is a fast-growing field that can provide solid opportunities for graduates in this specialty. According to the National Institutes of Health, health informatics combines the latest in technological innovation with the traditional delivery of medical services to patients in real-world situations. Students pursuing a degree in this healthcare field will take on new challenges in the classroom setting and in internships in clinics, hospitals and other facilities. Here are five key areas of study to expect when seeking a Master's degree in the field of Healthcare Informatics.
Biostatistical research and assessment is at the heart of the health informatics field. Students are called upon to compare various populations and to test hypotheses in the computing environment. Probability theory and data analysis will be key elements of study and will provide a solid foundation for experimenting and deriving conclusions regarding large sets of data. Hands-on experience with medical and chemical testing may also be required to ensure that students have a clear understanding of the factors that can affect the collection of statistics in modern healthcare environments. In some cases, credit for courses taken during previous university studies may be applied toward the requirements for a Master's degree in Healthcare Informatics.
Health Information Technology
Coursework in information technology and advanced computing methods can prepare students for the challenges they will face in the healthcare industry. These classes focus on a general understanding of hardware architecture and software programs commonly used by medical practitioners and administrative staff to record data and to manage patient records. Ethics and data standards will also be discussed in these classes; in particular, coding systems should be addressed to provide students with the information needed to design and maintain information systems in the medical environment. Online and in-person classes are usually available to provide added flexibility for working students.
Network and Computing Security
Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of the medical industry. Maintaining a safe and secure environment for patient data records and sensitive information is critical for healthcare providers. Most health informatics degrees incorporate classes in information security that include risk analysis, basics of cryptography, access control and secure login technologies, legal and ethical aspects of cybersecurity and data recovery methods. Successful completion of these topics can provide added support throughout a career in the health informatics field. Some degree programs offer online classes to provide added convenience and ease of access for degree-seeking students.
Big data is one of the major fields involved in modern healthcare informatics. By studying very large sets of data, analysts can draw conclusions and provide recommendations regarding healthcare issues and trends in the medical field. Data management classes typically focus on topics that include data mining, health care systems, database management, data integration and quality control issues. While hands-on experience is vital to ensure a full understanding of these subjects, online courses can often allow students to demonstrate their mastery of data mining, database systems and management to instructors without requiring direct contact or face-to-face class attendance.
Global Healthcare Systems
Developing an understanding of medical practices and conditions around the world can prepare students for high-level positions in the U.S. and abroad. Global healthcare coursework generally includes the study of medical practices in developing countries and the ethics involved in determining who receives limited healthcare resources in these areas. Epidemiology and parasitology classes are designed to provide an in-depth understanding of the transmission of disease and the treatment of various ailments around the world. Students who complete these courses can take on leadership positions in the field of healthcare informatics at home and in countries across the globe.
Completion of a Master's degree in Healthcare Informatics can allow students to achieve a higher level of success in their chosen field. Online and brick-and-mortar degree program options are available. In some cases, a practicum or capstone project may be required for successful completion of these healthcare informatics programs.