History of Healthcare Informatics
It wasn’t until the 1950’s, that informatics started to take off, when Robert Ledley used computers in dental projects with the National Bureau of Standards. In the 1960’s doctors, graduate students, and computer specialists began creating diagnostic systems and other medical computer programs. In the late 1960’s, the MUMPs programming system was created to integrate medical databases and is still used today (“The History”, n.d.).
In recent years, health informatics has exploded with president Obama’s 2009 Federal Stimulus Package, which has allocated millions of dollars for funding of health care informatics development and utilization. The package states a goal that by 2014, every resident will have an electronic health record (Sorgen, 2010). Given this stimulus, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts a 49% job growth and the U.S. News & World Report named Healthcare Informatics as one of the top careers today (“Health Informatics Career”, n.d.). What is Healthcare Informatics?
According to the American Health Information Management Association, healthcare Informatics was adapted from the French term for computer science (Informatique), in the 1970’s in order to capture the emerging science of information and computer technology that was used in healthcare. Health and Medical Informatics is often used interchangeably but both pertain to Healthcare Informatics. Healthcare Informatics “is the multidisciplinary scientific field concerned with the acquisition, storage, retrieval, communication and optimal use of health information for problem solving and decision making.
Health Informatics enhances the development and assessment tools used representing medical data, aiding medical decision making, defining medical language and classification systems, as well computer aided learning and healthcare IT strategy” (Health Informatics Career”, n.d.). Some of the technologies that Healthcare Informaticians manage include PDAs, telemedicine, digital imaging, digital libraries/websites, email system and clinical support systems, and electronic medical records. According to
Worldwidelearn.com, in order to succeed in Healthcare Informatics, one should possess certain skills and aptitudes.
These include but are not limited to; attention to detail, excellent verbal/written communication, problem solver, ability to work independently, intimate knowledge of computer hardware/software, good customer service skills, grace under pressure, ability to work with a wide variety of associates (doctors, nurses, programmers, managers, administrators), and a desire to help the medical community. To see if this career is the right for you; you can do research online, attend seminars, take aptitude tests and talk to working professionals in Informatics. Education and Training Requirements
There seems to be a wide variety of training and educational backgrounds for professionals currently working, in Healthcare Informatics. Many nurses working in this field have received on the job training or completed online certification programs. Many professionals currently working in this field have also received a degree in other specialty areas. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s 2011 survey, fifteen percent of respondents received on the job training while fifty six percent reported having Post-graduate degrees in Nursing or other specialties.
Fifteen percent were presently taking an informatics class online or through their institution. There are online certification programs that exist for busy working healthcare professionals that already have obtained a bachelor’s degree. These programs educate people on the basic skills and knowledge needed to design, implement and monitor electronic medical data systems. Some of the coursework includes: electronic records, data standards, system analysis, and design and information literacy.
A bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Informatics, provides a sound knowledge base of electronic medical systems in order to improve disease prevention, healthcare reimbursement and resource allocation. Some of the coursework includes: medical terminology, anatomy/physiology, statistics, revenue cycle management, finance, computer systems and health records. Masters and PhD programs focus more on the design of medical information systems.
Some of the coursework includes: emerging healthcare technologies, Informatics design and usability, genomics/bioinformatics, research, change management, and database security and design (“Health Care Informatics Education”, n.d.). Many degree programs also offer opportunities to specialize in certain areas, such as: nursing informatics, dental informatics, pharmaceutical informatics, public health informatics, bioinformatics, research informatics, imaging informatics and consumer health informatics (Hersh, 2009). Companies will sometimes train employees on the job, if they take certain certification programs. However, with higher educations comes an increase in salary, benefits and job positions. Many post-graduate degrees open doors for management and executive opportunities. Certification in Nursing Informatics
Unfortunately, when it comes to working in nursing informatics, having a degree in the field is not enough. Certification can also be useful. Being certified involves passing an exam showing proficiency in the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with nursing informatics. Some benefits of certification include recognition for professional achievement, higher salary, and more opportunities for promotion (Lewis, 2011). Currently, there are two ways a nurse can be certified in nursing informatics.
The most common way is through the American Nurses Association Credentialing Center (ANCC) (HIMSS, 2011). The ANCC offers an exam for eligible individuals. In order to sit for the exam, the individual must hold a current RN license, have at least two years full time experience as an RN, possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, finish 30 hours of continuing education in informatics over the past three years, and complete the appropriate number of practicum requirements. Practicum requirements include the following: at least 2,000 hours in informatics nursing over the past three years; 1,000 hours in the last three years and completed at least 12 semester hours in a graduate level nursing informatics program; or graduation from a graduate nursing informatics program where at least 200 hours of supervised practicum took place. A variety of study guides, groups, and courses are available for the individual wishing to take the ANCC Nursing Informatics Certification Exam (Lewis, 2011).
HIMSS also offers an option for nurses to become certified in nursing informatics. According to the HIMSS website (n.d.), candidates who wish to take the CPHIMS exam must meet one of the following requirements. The individual should have a bachelor’s degree in addition to five years of experience in associated information and management systems, with three of them taking place in the healthcare field, or the candidate should have a master’s degree in addition to three years experience, with two of them in healthcare. The associated information and management systems experience could take place in administration or management, clinical information systems, information systems, e-health, or management engineering. Compensation and Benefits
Nursing informatics is a career in which its workers have seen a significant increase in salary since 2004 (HIMSS, 2011). According to the HIMSS 2011 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, the average salary of nursing informaticists in 2004 was $69,500, but in 2011 it had increased to $98,703. Reported salaries tended to be higher in the New England and the Pacific regions. When looking at the different settings one can work in, those employed by consulting firms had the highest average salary ($153,576) with those employed by vendor organizations achieving the second highest average salary ($108,773). Those working in academics saw an increase in salary since the 2007 survey with an average of $101,346. Certification in nursing informatics also made a difference. Nurses certified by ANCC averaged $119,644 and those certified by CPHIMS averaged $110,291. On the other hand, nurses who did not attain certification had a lower average salary of $93,787.
Many of the respondents to the HIMSS (2011) survey also reported receiving benefits in addition to their salary. Medical and dental insurance were the most common benefits followed by 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plans. Other frequently included benefits were life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance, and tuition reimbursement. It was noted that 34 percent of respondents received a bonus. Work Environment
One of the advantages of becoming a nurse informaticist is the wide variety of work environments. Most work in a hospital setting, spending very little time on clinical activities. Some work at corporate offices of healthcare systems and others work in academics (HIMSS, 2011). A small number of respondents to the HIMSS (2011) survey worked for consulting firms or vendors. Nurse informaticists can also find employment at ambulatory facilities, home health agencies, managed care or insurance companies, and government or military facilities. References
American Health Information Management Association (2012). Joint AMIA/AHIMA
Summary of their Relationship and Link to the Informatics Field. Retrieved from
Guide to College Majors in Medical Informatics. Retrieved from
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (n.d.). CPHIMS Become certified. Retrieved from http://www.himss.org/asp/certification_cphimsApply.asp Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (2011). HIMSS 2011 nursing informatics workforce survey. Retrieved from http://www.himss.org/content/files/2011HIMSSNursingInformaticsWorkforceSurvey.pdf Health Care Informatics Education and Training Program Summaries. Retrieved from http://www.education-portal.com/articles/Heath_Care_Informatics_Education_and_
Health Informatics Career and Training Profile. Retrieved from http://www.allhealthcaredegrees.com/career/informatics.htm Hersh, W. (2009). A Stimulus to Define Informatics and Health Information Technology. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6947/9/24 Lewis, A. (2011). How to successfully pass the nursing informatics certification exam. ANIA-CARING Newsletter, 26(3), 10-12. Sorgen, C.( 2010). Medical Informatics: A Healthcare Profession Snapshot. Retrieved from
The History of Healthcare Informatics. Retrieved from
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