With the increasing scope of medical knowledge over the last few decades, new options of treatment have become available due to technological advancement. The development of health information technologies has given health providers the opportunity to have complete access to diverse data, which is impossible to access without digital media. Therefore, the demand for professionals specializing in the area of information technologies has increased, with more and more jobs opening up to meet the need for staff on important innovative projects and health informatics fields.
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Health care informatics represents an interdisciplinary study concerning design, development, adoption, and application of Information Technology (IT)-based innovations in the planning, management, and delivery of healthcare services (Fridsma, 2017). The wide range of processes implemented with the help of IT has enabled the adoption of new roles in health informatics, such as the Chief Information Officers, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Nursing Informatics Specialist, Software Engineer, and many others. The mentioned positions are needed for developing new solutions in IT healthcare, such as mobile applications, electronic health records, patient satisfaction surveys, statewide databases, and more. Health IT specialists are crucial for improving the delivery of care by helping nurses, physicians, and other personnel operating at healthcare facilities do their job effectively.
The need for increasing the numbers of IT personnel within the healthcare setting is associated with the fact that some of the required roles are hard to fill. For instance, according to the report prepared by the University of San Diego (2016), it takes around 18 days to fill the position of a medical record clerk, which is a relatively uncomplicated IT personnel role to fill. However, more advanced roles, such as the Clinical Analyst, Medical Coder, Clinical Application Developer, Medical Records and Coding Supervisor, as well as Health Information Manager/Director take between 38 and 42 days to fill, which suggests that there is a lack of skilled professionals specializing in health IT.
Health informatics as a top career in healthcare has gained attention because of its focus on combining patient care with health IT skills, which enables professionals in this sphere to demand more pay and expand their potential for professional growth. For example, the average salary for health IT professionals across US regions was $111,387 annually by 2015, which signifies the high demand for the position (University of San Diego, 2016). As a result of the increasing demand, the sphere of education has been dedicated to developing academic programs in the field of health informatics, including apprenticeships and experiential training as a path toward the advancement of the profession (Fridsma, 2017). Because of the unique nature of the health IT profession, there is a need to facilitate diversity in training and for educators to think beyond the traditional approaches in order to get a larger number of students interested in the field.
Considering the fact that many positions are currently hard to fill, the role of a health IT professional is expected to further increase in importance, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic when the reliance on digitalization of healthcare has become crucial. Health IT personnel will use their extensive skills and expertise to improve the future of patient care and delivery, and they need multidimensional training, which includes both academic education and apprenticeship training to become valuable professionals in their fields.
Fridsma, D. (2017). Developing the health informatics workforce of the future: Academic and industry partners. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 24(3), 677-678.
University of San Diego. (2016). A career in health care informatics: The outlook and options. Web.