You don’t have to be a doctor to work in healthcare. Who has the time for a bachelor’s degree, the MCAT, medical school, and three years minimum of residency? In fact, a large number of careers in the healthcare industry are non-clinical; or do not work directly in giving patients care. One of the hottest new jobs to come to market in the past decade is health informatics.
All the latest technological advancements have proved to be a boon for patients everywhere. These advancements have gone hand in hand with delivering more and more data, allowing the industry to focus more on better care, efficiency, and cost-saving improvements. But with lots of data, comes lots of responsibility. All the new data yields insights to problems we never knew existed. Yet this information must first be used and collected in a meaningful way.
The need for efficient data collection and analysis is growing exponentially. This responsibility falls on the shoulders of the informatics professionals. Working closely with IT and computing, their work involves improving existing infrastructure and developing new processes with workflows and data gathering to aid in health care delivery. Not only are Health IT professionals able to work with big data, the latest technology, and some of the largest corporations in the world; health informatics contribute in a meaningful way by saving lives. All with a pay scale one wouldn’t call modest.
If the thought of using big data to save lives is appealing to you, here are a few tips to guide your path into this paramount career.
1. Education and Training
First and foremost, the proper skills and education are necessary to land such a coveted job. A bachelor’s degree lays the foundation needed, but lacks the clout needed to stand out and land that dream job.
After earning a bachelor’s and employed in an entry-level job, try working to earn an online master’s in healthcare informatics. Learning tertiary health data to harness the power of applied information will polish your resume and give you targeted skills to flourish among your peers.
There are exceptions for individuals without college degrees that can show they are experienced in the fundamental skills listed below. Portfolios, Hands-on projects, and other activities that allow you to showcase your abilities to perform Health IT tasks are critical to landing a job in health informatics.
2. Database Management
Huge streams of data will flood your servers each day. Keeping meaningful data, and putting aside the white noise, can be an arduous task for the untrained. But with skills in informatics, this will become second nature: determining which data sets can be leveraged to provide real-time actionable insights. The medical approach, and doctrine best suited for a situation, can be the difference between life and death for a patient. Health IT Professionals are often thankless, yet highly compensated lifesavers.
Databases and Structured Query Language (SQL) are critical skills every Health IT professional need to know. The ability to store, retrieve and alter data is fundamental to data analytics. Data Engineering with SQL allow you to extract and manipulate data in healthcare databases to improve health outcomes.
3. Clinical Applications and Process Improvement
Lifesaving reports are not served to doctors on a silver platter. Transmitting the proper information to the correct person becomes an entangled mess of missed calls, unopened emails, and lost cable wires. As a Health IT Professional, you will be responsible for maintaining and monitoring clinical applications, quality measurements, medical coding and other systems that support the delivery of care.
We have all experienced the doctor typing away on his or her standing computer desk, while helplessly trying to keep up with what they are saying. Health IT professionals significantly decrease the number of “clicks” each provider makes while conveying an equivalent message. This is done by optimizing processes and workflows within healthcare organizations to better support the providers as they deliver quality healthcare to patients as they move along the continuum of care. Giving more time to physicians is one of the largest hurdles faced today in the healthcare industry and reducing physician burnout. Health Informatic professionals are at the forefront of the problem.
The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is the critical component in which patient outcomes, provider payments, and government mandates revolve around. Working with healthcare data puts you at the heart of the medical system. A large bonus comes to the person who can increase efficiency and cut costs while improving patient outcomes. The responsibility of keeping the data in the EHR meaningful and applicable is a key component of this career. Learning the intricacies of these systems is both important and lucrative.
4. Project Management and Change Management
Healthcare’s technological landscape is rapidly changing and “keeping up with the Joneses” can often seem like a moving target. Health IT professionals are innovative and lead other to promote change for the good of the organization. Interacting and leading teams of people lie at the crux of this career. By leading a team of coders, IT servicemen, doctors, nurses, and many others; you must be demonstrate the ability to promote organizational change through change management while carefully implementing and managing new innovative projects through to completion.
Being a strong leader and a team player is vital to success. Employers continually seek employees who can lead, manage, and communicate, just as well as they can code.
5. Coding and Computing Fluency
The texture of the work in health informatics is clear-cut. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations expect fluency in medical coding terminology, payer networks, and statistical programming. Being a technology wiz helps too. The ability to quickly learn the newest medical technology and how to apply the data it gives is key.
Make time to learn the healthcare IT terminology and the history of healthcare in America. Get an understanding of the healthcare delivery system and how providers are reimbursed for services rendered. Knowing the terminology and speaking medical lingo in a job interview will place budding college graduates at the top of the hire list.
Above are some useful tips and facts about seeking and landing a job in healthcare informatics. Ultimately, an early start and a committed schedule will land you the job of your dreams in any field, this included. If any stumbling blocks present themselves, stay humble, seek help, and conquer your goals. As you advance through your education, keep the facts about this career in mind as you develop all of the necessary skills to save lives, and manage the informatics department of a multi-trillion dollar industry. Start a online portfolio and start showing potential employers your level of expertise.