What Skills Can You Get From a Health Informatics Course?

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Health informatics is where health care and IT meet, but how do you know if it's the right field for you? Find out what skills can you get from a health informatics course.

[Featured Image]:  Optometrist, wearing a white jacket and brown pants, sitting in the exam room, using health informatics skills.

Health informatics is an exciting multidisciplinary field that combines computer and information science—including artificial intelligence and big data—with health care and life sciences. Using data analysis tools and methods increases treatment quality, privacy, and accessibility. As a health informatics professional, you analyze information from electronic health records and other data sources to develop solutions that improve patient care and outcomes.

The courses in a health informatics program cover various topics, including medical terminology, electronic health records, health care ethics, and data modeling. Through these courses, you can learn the vital knowledge you need to work in the field of health informatics and develop the skills you will use in your career. 

Analytical thinking

Health informatics roles typically require a considerable amount of analytical thinking. In these positions, you review electronic medical records along with data from emergency rooms and insurance companies looking for trends and patterns that emerge. Not only must you be able to draw conclusions from this data, but you also need the ability to choose the best techniques to extract the data you need and share it with others. 

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence plays a more significant role in health informatics as professionals need solutions to help them analyze large data sets. Some health informatics courses touch on AI applications and solutions, or you may take classes exploring AI technology and its potential uses in the health care industry. These courses may cover machine learning and natural language processing to process and analyze data.


Health informatics professionals tend to be intermediaries between the technical and management sides of the health care industry. In this role, they rely on their ability to explain complex concepts to people who may not have a background in big data. Participating in health informatics courses can allow you to discuss and share your thoughts with other students. Some specific communication skills you may practice and develop include active listening, non-verbal communication, empathy, and word choice.

Computer programming

You'll likely spend a considerable amount of time using a computer in your work as a health informatics professional. Understanding computer programming is handy when designing an application to extract, analyze, or display data. If you choose a health informatics degree program, you will likely take courses in computer programming, or you may prefer to take a course in a programming language.

Data analysis

Data analysis is an essential component of health informatics careers. In a health informatics degree program, you can take a data analysis course to learn some techniques and tools used to analyze and visualize data. You'll also likely work with case studies related to health informatics to practice using the data analysis skills you're developing and learn how different analysis techniques apply to health care settings.

Electronic health records

As the name indicates, electronic health records are digital forms of a patient's medical history. All the information you would find in a paper file exists in this electronic record, including demographics, diagnoses, medications, and more. Understanding how to read electronic health records and their information is an essential skill for health informatics professionals. You may take an entire course on the structure and use of electronic health records or learn about them as part of a general health informatics course.

Health information management

Understanding health information systems used in medical centers, hospitals, and insurance companies is valuable in health informatics roles. You need a thorough knowledge of how information moves within these systems and the legal requirements for protecting sensitive patient details. In doing so, you can protect patient information in your work.

Medical terminology

As a health informatics professional, you should have a working knowledge of medical terminology. This includes diagnostic terms you'll encounter in electronic health records and the vocabulary used in medical coding to describe systems and treatments used in various health care settings. If you're entering the field of health informatics, you will likely already know many of these words. However, someone without a medical background may find it helpful to take a medical terminology or coding course to build this skill.


Health informatics professionals use data to solve healthcare-related problems. In some cases, they identify trends in the data and actionable solutions, and sometimes they create tools to help medical professionals solve problems. For example, the Rhode Island Quality Institute created a dashboard to help hospitals share information about emergency room visits with primary care providers to reduce the time required to find details about the patients' visits. You'll also have opportunities to explore some applications of health informatics in health informatics courses and can apply what you've learned in hands-on projects.

Who should take health informatics courses?

Anyone interested in learning more about the use of data in the health care system and exploring career options in the field may find health informatics courses practical. The growing field is broad, covering areas like health records management, patient care, and organizational administration.

If you already have a medical or computer programming background, you may find your experience helpful as you prepare for your new career. However, you don't need medical knowledge or programming experience to pursue opportunities in the field. A health informatics course for beginners should cover foundational topics like medical terminology and ethics. Similarly, you can take courses to learn programming languages and coding basics.

Best of all, the skills used by health informatics professionals transfer to other types of careers. According to Monster's 2022 Global Report, communication and problem-solving are two of the top three skills employers look for when hiring [1].

Next steps: Earn a health informatics certificate

If you're ready to learn more about health informatics, check out a course like HI-FIVE: Health Informatics for Innovation, Value & Enrichment by Columbia University. This role-based training presents you with use case scenarios in which you get to explore the use of health informatics from the perspectives of different stakeholders.

Article sources

  1. Monster. “The Future of Work, https://media.monster.com/marketing/2022/The-Future-of-Work-2022-Global-Report.pdf.” Accessed March 22, 2023.

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