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Health informatics vs. HIM: Which master's track is right for you?

The College of St. Scholastica By  The College of St. Scholastica  |  @StScholastica  | 

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Health informatics and information management (HIIM) has long been predicted to stand as one of the hottest healthcare career fields in the next decade. In fact, experts are projecting as many as 50,000 new jobs by 2017!

If you've looked into this booming arena of healthcare, you've likely realized the field is more complex than it seems on the surface. This integral link between patients, patient data and treatment services yields a multitude of career possibilities for healthcare hopefuls.  

It's no secret that our technological capabilities are evolving rapidly. Health informatics (HI) and health information management (HIM) have become closely intertwined in the wake of the movement toward electronic health records in healthcare facilities—in fact, they often rely heavily on one another to achieve effective results.  

So where does one profession end and the other begin? Join us as we decode the differences between HI and HIM so that you can better determine which HIIM master's degree track will help you achieve your goals.

The basics: What is health informatics?

All sectors of HIIM are comprised of a marriage between patient information and technology. Health informatics focuses specifically on the science of information management by defining how health information is captured, transmitted and utilized.  

HI professionals work behind the scenes to design computer information systems in which patient data can be logged and stored. They also analyze health information and use applied research to interpret the data. It is an integrated discipline comprised of a number of specialty domains such as management science, computer science, public health and patient safety.  

In short, the work of informatics is built on the need to create new solutions in biomedical science, the health of populations and the quality and safety of individual care, according to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).  

HI professionals can assume a handful of different job titles depending on educational experience. These roles include database analyst, systems analyst, director of clinical informatics and nursing or pharmacy informatics specialist. Healthcare service providers working in HI must be well-versed in information technology, network architecture, hardware-software integration and healthcare systems in general.  

The basics: What is health information management?

Health information management focuses on collecting, grouping, managing and utilizing digital and traditional patient health information. But more importantly, this field focuses on enhancing the patient's experience of the healthcare provided—both on the front lines and behind the scenes.  

HIM professionals apply the science of HI to directly impact the quality of patient information and patient care at every phase of the healthcare delivery cycle. Healthcare organizations rely heavily on these information experts to ensure they have the correct information on hand when and where it is needed, while maintaining the highest standards of data integrity, confidentiality and security, according to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).  

HIM positions are often viewed as "bridge roles," connecting clinical, operational and administrative functions into a comprehensive patient care package. There are more than 140 different job titles, ranging from medical records manager, compliance officer, data quality manager and health information management director.  

These healthcare experts must be trained in information technology—including medical records management, coding and disease classification. They are also required to maintain a working knowledge of healthcare systems, medical terminology, data analysis, policy shifts and proficient people skills.  

Join the booming field of HIIM

The fast-paced evolution of modern technology has been revolutionary in transforming the way health information is gathered, processed, stored and utilized. But this rapid progression has left a prominent skill gap in its wake.  

Healthcare organizations will continue to seek highly-skilled health information and technology professionals to meet their growing needs. If you are looking for a versatile education and dynamic career path, you could be one of them!  

If there were ever a "right" time to enter into the field of health informatics and information management, that time is now.  

At The College of St. Scholastica (CSS), you will have the opportunity to join the nation's very first accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs in health information management. You have the option of earning your bachelor's or master's 100% online while learning from the healthcare pros who literally wrote the book on HIIM. To learn more, take a look at these 6 things you didn't know CSS' HIIM programs offer.

The College of St. Scholastica

The College of St. Scholastica is an independent private Catholic Benedictine college with locations across Minnesota, in addition to many high-quality programs available online and through convenient evening and weekend formats. Since 1912, St. Scholastica has been preparing students for a life of purpose and economic gain by engaging students in the love of learning and active citizenship in the world. Our mission is to provide intellectual and moral preparation for responsible living and meaningful work. 

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