Technology has changed almost every aspect of the way we live and work, including our approach to healthcare. Medical providers, clinical facilities and payers are increasingly adopting technology that can help them achieve the goals of higher-quality care at lower cost. Health informatics is a rapidly growing field, fusing the knowledge of technology with the desire to improve patient care. As the field grows, a competitive health informatics salary can be part of a fulfilling career.
This post explores a variety of career and salary possibilities in this dynamic, essential field.
Careers in Health Informatics
Health informatics is where technology and healthcare converge, defined by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as “the integration of healthcare sciences, computer science, information science, and cognitive science to assist in the management of healthcare information.”1 Within the broader field of health informatics are specialty areas, such as:
- Clinical informatics, which focuses on medical information systems and technological tools, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and practice management systems, used by clinical providers and facilities
- Health administration informatics, which centers on healthcare management
- Health technology informatics, which focuses on information technology within and beyond the realm of healthcare2
As the field of health informatics grows, more specialty areas are emerging. Success in health informatics, therefore, requires an in-depth understanding of clinical operations, healthcare, management, and information technology.
The Importance of Health Informatics in Medicine
Today, the healthcare field places strong focus on the idea of patient-centered care, encouraging patients to take an active role in their care and have significant control over healthcare decisions.3 Technology is one of the best ways to coordinate care among various, often disconnected, systems and providers. Health informatics professionals help patients, providers, clinical facilities, and payers with efficient and effective technologies designed to achieve the best outcomes.
Health informatics can improve patient care in several ways:
In 2017, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the U.S. spent over $700 billion a year on procedures that did not improve outcomes; many were duplicate procedures that would not be necessary if health organizations could more easily share information.4 In addition to facilitating that communication, technology can also reduce medical errors and malpractice claims, and provide better and more accurate information to patients and providers in determining appropriate care.
Technology can be instrumental in recommending screenings, alerting providers to potentially adverse drug reactions, and using algorithms to predict disease for better preventive care.
Coordination and Shared Knowledge
Healthcare providers at all levels benefit from sharing information about diseases, therapies, medications, and treatment options. Patients with complex conditions also need providers to coordinate care, even when they don't use the same EHR.5
Access to health data through electronic medical records helps patients understand their overall health. Technology can help educate patients about diseases, prognoses and treatment options, and keep them connected with members of their care teams.
What Salary Can You Expect?
With so many needs and avenues for meeting them, it’s no surprise that there are several diverse career paths in health informatics. Health informatics management is ideal for someone with a clinical background who wants to advance into a leadership position, or someone with an IT or business background who wants to specialize in the healthcare industry.
Because health informatics is a very broad, still-evolving field, it includes opportunities to earn a remunerative salary in several areas—what the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) calls "job families." The most common job families, average salaries and examples of positions in each include these:6
- IT infrastructure ($98,180): data quality manager, system analyst, chief technology officer (cto), and implementation support specialist
- Compliance and risk management ($89,230): credentialing supervisor, compliance auditor, information security manager, director of risk management
- Clinical documentation improvement ($84,300): clinical documentation manager, director of cdi, cdi quality and training manager, clinical medical data coordinator
- Informatics and data analytics ($83,490): clinical informatics coordinator, project manager, research and development scientist, director of clinical informatics
- Operations and medical records administration ($81,950): health information management (HIM) supervisor, HIM technician, director of HIM, meaningful use specialist
- HIM education ($79,120): HIM professor, HIM librarian, ICD-10 educator, program director, department chair
- Revenue cycle management, coding and billing ($66,370): medical coding professional, revenue cycle manager, HIM revenue cycle auditor
Influences on Salary
In health informatics, as in all career fields, multiple factors affect your total salary.
Having some experience in the health informatics field or a similar discipline, such as clinical healthcare or IT, can help you stand out among applicants and command a higher salary. Average salary breakdown by years of experience:6
- Entry level (0-2 years): $45,910
- Early career (3-6 years): $51,755
- Mid-career (7-10 years): $59,770
- Experienced (11-20 years): $70,080
- Very experienced (21+ years): $83,950
Your specific job role also influences how much you can make. As you might expect, positions in leadership and senior management offer higher salaries than those offered by mid-level management or non-managerial positions.
Education and Certifications
With a higher level of education or additional certifications, you can reasonably expect to earn a higher salary. Some of the options for certifications and degrees include:6
- Master's degree in health informatics
- HIM certifications, such as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
- Coding certifications, such as Certified Coding Associate (CCA) or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
- Specialty certifications, such as Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA), Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS), or Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP)
Build Your Career on a Strong Foundation.
Kent State’s online Master of Science and Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Health Informatics equip you with the skills and expertise that are in demand in this dynamic field. Through robust coursework with our expert faculty, you’ll be prepared for a career that makes a measurable difference in peoples’ lives—starting with your own.
- Retrieved September 17, 2020 from himss.org/resources/healthcare-informatics
- Retrieved September 17, 2020 from usnews.com/education/online-education/health-informatics-masters-degree
- Retrieved September 17, 2020 from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3146983/
- Retrieved September 17, 2020 from brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2017/05/26/health-information-exchanges-reduce-redundant-medical-procedures/
- Retrieved September 17, 2020 from hitconsultant.net/2016/03/02/health-informatics-transforming-health-care/#.X2Qe1mdKiMI
- Retrieved September 17, 2020 from ahima.org/media/betc41er/salary-snapshot.pdf