What Is Health Informatics? Definition + How to Get Started

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Health informatics combines health care with data analytics. Learn more about this increasingly important multidisciplinary field.

[Featured Image]: A female health informatics specialist presents data on a large screen.

Pairing the tools and methods of data analytics with the systems and objectives of the health care industry, health informatics is a relatively new multidisciplinary field that has a wide range of impactful applications. Whether it’s improving patient care or modernizing treatment plans or containing public health outbreaks, health informatics has played a part in some of the biggest changes in health care over the two decades.   

The impact that health informatics has had on health care alongside the unique skill set required to do jobs in the field means that these roles are often in demand and pay higher than average salaries. Read on to learn more about the field, some common careers in it, and how you can get started.  

Health informatics definition

Health informatics is a multidisciplinary field that uses data analytics to develop insights and drive innovations in the health care industry. Using big data produced through the digitization of health care records, systems, and processes, health informatics seeks to improve both patient care and public health.

The application for health informatics is wide. In addition to being used to improve patient portals, create cloud-based health care systems, and personalize treatment plans, health care informatics is also used to develop new medical technology and design public health strategies.

Health informatics vs health information management

Though they share many similarities, health informatics and health information management are not the same.

Health information management is concerned with managing health care data by recording and storing patient information and developing the processes around them.

Health informatics, meanwhile, uses collected data to create health care insights, improve patient care, and develop new approaches to providing care to both individuals and the public. 

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Health informatics: Salary, job outlook, and roles

As a field that combines data analytics with health care, the job outlook and expected salaries for many health informatics positions are positive. In this section, you will learn about some of the jobs that define the health informatics field, the salary range you can expect from them, and the job outlook. 

Health informatics salary

The jobs that comprise health informatics often receive a higher than average salary. According to Glassdoor, the average pay for some of the most common health informatics careers is as follows [1,2,3,4]: 

  • Health informatics specialist – $90,630

  • Data analyst – $92,845

  • Health informatics analyst – $100,803 

  • Nursing informatics specialist – $107,751

Health informatics job outlook

Although the BLS doesn’t specifically collect information about health informatics, it does collect information on both the health care field and data-oriented occupations. Pairing the outlooks on both of these fields paints a very positive picture of the future of health informatics. 

According to the BLS, health care occupations are projected to grow by 16 percent between 2020 and 2030, adding a further 2.6 million new jobs [5]. Similarly, the BLS projects that operations research analysts – the job category under which data analyst falls – will grow by 25 percent between the same period, adding approximately 10,200 openings each year [6]. In effect, it can be assumed that health informatics will have a positive outlook for the foreseeable future. 

Health informatics roles

As a multidisciplinary field with a range of applications in the health care industry, health informatics encompasses numerous jobs. Some common health informatics jobs include: 

  • Health informatics specialist 

  • Clinical informatics specialists

  • Health informatics analyst

  • Data analyst

  • Systems analyst

  • Database analyst

  • Nursing informatics specialist

Health informatics programs

Different health informatics positions require different credentials and education levels. To pursue a health informatics career, you need to go through the right programs. Below are some of the most common credentials for health informatics professionals: 

Health informatics certificate

There are many certificates designed for both established health informatics professionals and those looking to enter the field. Unlike longer-term degrees, certificates are typically the result of shorter-term study programs or an examination that tests your current skills and knowledge. Some common certificates include:

  • The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) provides the Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) certification. To take the CHDA exam, you must have an RHIT or RHIA credential, or a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university. AHIMA recommends that course takers have three years of health care data experience. 

  • The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) offers the AMIA Health Informatics Certificate (AHIC) to professionals who pass a 150-item multiple-choice test. To qualify for the certificate you must have a master’s degree or higher with eligibility requirements changing based on your educational level and professional work experience. 

  • Yale’s Health Informatics MasterTrack program provides course takers with a certificate at the conclusion of their 7-month program. Designed for those who already have a bachelor’s degree and basic coding knowledge, the course covers a wide range of topics, including health data analytics, public health informatics, and using health care information within health care systems. 

Health informatics associate degree

Associate degrees in health informatics or a related field introduce you to the fundamental concepts required to enter the field. These courses can prepare you for some entry-level positions, such as medical coder.

Common names for associate degrees in this field include Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Health Information technology and Health Information Management Associate Degree. 

Health informatics bachelor's degree

If you’re hoping to enter the field of health informatics, you will likely benefit from obtaining a bachelor’s of science (BS) in health informatics or a related field, such as computer science or health science. In addition to training students in profession-specific skills, some employers might also prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees. 

Master’s in health informatics

A master of science (MS) in health informatics or a related field, such as public health, can make you a more competitive applicant for more senior positions. Some common jobs that either require or can benefit from obtaining a master’s degree in health informatics include informatics director, pharmacy informaticist, and nursing informatics specialists. 

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Get started with Coursera

A career in health informatics is possible with the proper training and experience. Whether you are already established in the field or simply considering a future career in which it plays a part, you might consider taking an online course in health informatics to expand your skill set and employability. 

Yale’s Health Informatics MasterTrack Certificate allows caretakers to explore innovative approaches to data and knowledge management in a live, simulated environment taught by the Health Informatics faculty at the Yale School of Public Health. MasterTrack graduates who are admitted to Yale’s Master’s of Public Health program will be granted two credits toward the full degree program. 

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Health Informatics MasterTrack® Certificate

Yale University

MasterTrack® Certificate

Article sources

1. Glassdoor. “How much does a Health Informatics Specialist make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-health-informatics-specialist-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,32.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed June 9, 2022. 

2. Glassdoor. “Data Analyst Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-data-analyst-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,15.htm.” Accessed June 9, 2022. 

3. Glassdoor. “How much does a Health Informatics Analyst make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-health-informatics-analyst-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,29.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed June 9, 2022. 

4. Glassdoor. “Nursing Informatics Specialist Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-nursing-informatics-specialist-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,33.htm.” Accessed June 9, 2022. 

5. BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Healthcare occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed June 9, 2022. 

6. BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Operations Research Analyst, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm.” Accessed June 9, 2022. 

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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