Health informatics combines interdisciplinary sciences, business, and healthcare knowledge in the management and protection of healthcare information. The management of health information is undergoing rapid changes as technology improves and processes adapt to meet the needs of an aging population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% increase for health informatics jobs by 2026.
Earning a master's in health informatics leads to career opportunities in data management, computer programming, process improvement, and business management. This guide outlines what to look for in a health informatics program; program admissions requirements; and how to choose a program aligned with your goals, interests, and budget.
Should I Get a Master's in Health Informatics?
Ideal candidates for a degree in health informatics are comfortable working with complex and sensitive data, enjoy working with technology, and are interested in processes to improve the efficient delivery of services.
Managing health information requires integrity and a commitment to ethical and legal requirements. While earning a master's in health informatics, you gain skills in business management, software development, information security, and data analysis as well as analytical and critical-thinking skills.
Working professionals may find that the flexibility of an online master's degree is the best fit for their schedule. An on-campus program is often appealing to recent graduates with a bachelor's degree aiming to move directly into a credentialed position. Credentialed health informatics positions offer higher pay and more responsibility.
Students in health informatics programs benefit from networking and internship opportunities that may lead to job placement upon graduation. Schools also typically provide job placement assistance prior to graduation.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Health Informatics?
A master's in health informatics prepares graduates for jobs in management and administration. Many students pursue careers in health information management, information security, and consulting. Graduates interested in overseeing staff and implementing information management programs may obtain administrator positions in hospitals or private practice. Read below for a few career possibilities.
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Health information technicians ensure the accuracy and privacy of patients' health data, including patient history, tests, and diagnoses. Technicians also code and classify data in patient databases to prepare information for insurance reimbursement. Employers prefer to hire technicians with an advanced degree.
Median Annual Salary: $39,180
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
- Medical and Health Service Managers
Healthcare administrators plan, implement, and direct healthcare services. They frequently manage staff and provide legal and ethical oversight. Health information managers are responsible for the security and accuracy of patient records; they usually begin as technicians before pursuing a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
Information systems (IT) managers plan, coordinate, and direct the management and implementation of information systems. Healthcare IT managers are responsible for information systems in hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies. They may oversee system security and ensure the accessibility of information. Master's graduates are very competitive for this technical occupation.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
- Management Analysts
Management analysts typically work as consultants to propose improvements for companies. Healthcare consultants work with hospitals and other healthcare providers to analyze procedures and develop recommendations to improve efficiency. They may review information systems and how data is collected and reported. Consultants with an advanced degree demonstrate knowledge in the field.
Median Annual Salary: $82,450
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
- Policy Analysts
Healthcare providers and organizations hire analysts to oversee the implementation of policy changes. Analysts also provide legislative reports on the impact of policy changes. A master's degree is required to become a policy analyst.
Median Annual Salary: $115,110
Projected Growth Rate: 3%
How to Choose a Master's in Health Informatics Program
There are many factors to consider when choosing an MS in health informatics program, including finding a program that matches your interests and career goals. Different programs may offer unique specializations, such as clinical informatics, public health, and hospital administration, so be sure to choose a program with a curriculum aligned with your goals.
Many programs include a practicum or other direct experience. These supervised roles offer practical experience and networking opportunities. Some programs have pre-approved practicum sites, while others allow you to choose a placement. Online health informatics programs generally allow you to choose a local site, while on-campus programs typically provide practicum sites within the campus vicinity.
Choosing an online or on-campus program may also impact the length of a program. Online programs are a good choice for working professionals, as they frequently offer part-time or accelerated options. However, part-time tracks can add years to a degree.
Cost is another important factor to consider when choosing a school. The cost of a health informatics program varies by institution, with in-state, public schools typically charging the lowest tuition. In addition to tuition, students should consider technology, books, and housing expenses. Students can decrease their costs by applying for scholarships and grants.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Health Informatics Programs
Only institutions that are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-approved accreditor are eligible for programmatic accreditation. Accreditation ensures that the program meets quality academic standards. Programmatic accreditation is provided by agencies that are specific to the field to ensure the education is professionally relevant. Accreditation is a voluntary process. Institutions that undergo the detailed peer review process demonstrate their commitment to academic excellence.
The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) is the highest regarded accreditor of health informatics programs. CAHIIM monitors all approved programs and updates standards as the field advances. Graduating from an accredited master's in health informatics program demonstrates to employers that you have professional skills and knowledge. Students who want to earn American Health Information Management Association credentials must graduate from a CAHIIM-accredited program.
Master's in Health Informatics Program Admissions
There are several admissions requirements for an MS in health informatics degree. You must submit an institutional application and a program application. The institution's admission requirements apply to all of the programs that it offers. Program applications are more specific and may be more stringent than the institution's. It is important to note both the school's and the program's requirements.
Consider applying to three to five schools to increase your chances of admission. On-campus programs frequently cap the number of new students each year, so some programs are more competitive than others. Be sure to consider application fees, transcript fees, and other costs when applying.
- Bachelor's Degree: MS in health informatics programs give preference to students with a bachelor's degree in healthcare, technology, or related field. Prerequisites in computer science, statistics, and medical terminology are generally required.
- Professional Experience: Applicants are not required to have professional experience in health informatics, but programs typically request a resume, so students with some professional experience are viewed favorably.
- Minimum GPA: A 3.0 GPA is typically required for admission. However, programs consider the entire application package, so you can offset a lower GPA with test scores, experience, or certifications.
- Application: Prospective students must submit an application detailing their professional and educational background. Most schools accept online applications.
- Transcripts: You must submit certified transcripts from all postsecondary schools. Contact your school registrar to request transcripts. Schools generally charge a fee for each transcript.
- Letters of Recommendation: You typically need two to three letters of recommendation from teachers or professionals who can speak to your skills and readiness for graduate education. Give writers at least one month's notice to complete the letter.
- Test Scores: Some programs require a minimum GRE score of 300 or a GMAT score of 500. Requirements may be waived for students with certification.
- Application Fee: The typical application fee is $75 and must be submitted with the application to begin the review process. Some schools offer a waiver for students with demonstrable financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Health Informatics Program?
Programs approach health informatics in many ways, offering unique concentrations and career opportunities. Research core curricula and specializations at each prospective school to get an idea of what to expect. This section provides a few common examples of health informatics concentrations.
|Health Informatics Technology Management||Health informatics management involves planning, developing, and maintaining healthcare information systems. Coursework in this concentration focuses on system analysis and design. Students learn about legal and security compliance measures. Graduates can manage large-scale healthcare information system projects.||Systems administrator, software developer, hospital IT administrator|
|Health Data Analytics||Health data analytics focuses on statistical analysis, data mining, and analytical processes. Students learn how to apply data analysis to healthcare decision making. The concentration includes real-time project analysis and the creation of statistical decision-making systems.||Insurance analyst, researcher, statistician, health economist|
|Clinical Informatics||Clinical informatics professionals analyze and evaluate systems and use data to improve healthcare services, public health outcomes, and research. Core coursework includes education in information technology and the healthcare environment. Graduates gain skills in computer science, project management, and data analysis.||Researcher; data analyst or consultant for government offices, hospitals, or health insurance providers|
|Public Health Informatics||This emerging field applies health informatics principles to the study of public health. Students study epidemiology, public health safety, and health education. The ethics of public health registries and epidemiological databases are also explored, as well as the policy implications of public health information.||Public health educator, policy developer, consultant, epidemiology researcher|
|Health Informatics Administration||Health informatics administrators work with healthcare administration and staff. This concentration provides students with a background in business administration, finance, and human resources in addition to information technology and data systems.||Hospital department chief, IT department manager, chief information officer|
Courses in a Master's in Health Informatics Program
While all accredited programs must meet general guidelines for core coursework, course specifics vary by institution. Programs also offer a variety of electives that further diversify a student's education.
- Healthcare Privacy and Security
Privacy and security concerns are crucial to the maintenance of health records, and are reinforced by federal and state laws. Health information must be maintained confidentially and systems must take strict security measures. Coursework reviews policies and regulations while preparing students to manage electronic health records in many settings.
- Project Management
Project management builds applied leadership skills to contribute to organizational change. Students learn about the challenges of research and information governance and the impact of technology on healthcare. Students develop communication and critical-thinking skills.
- Health Information Systems
Students learn about health information systems and their application in healthcare settings. Students work with electronic health records and develop statistical decision support systems and system architecture that contributes to efficient workflow. Coursework prepares students as system developers and health informatics administrators.
- Organizational Behavior
Understanding the theory and applications of organizational behavior is essential for effective leadership. Coursework explores best practices to manage and lead healthcare organizations. Students graduate with an understanding of what drives behavior in the workplace and are prepared for careers in administration and management.
- Health Services Research
Healthcare research is an interdisciplinary field. Coursework includes policy, management, and program evaluation in healthcare services. Topics in research design, cost efficiency, data analysis systems, and cost-benefit analysis prepare students for careers in health insurance, economics, and finance.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Health Informatics?
The average length of time to earn a master's in health informatics is two years. However, many factors affect how long it takes an individual to earn the degree, such as program structure. The structure of the program determines how many credits you can take at a time. For example, students in a cohort program pursue their degree in a set schedule while online students have more schedule flexibility.
Some programs provide flexibility for working professionals, allowing students to take full-time or part-time classes. Students who want to graduate quickly may be able to take additional credits per semester. However, it is important to note that most schools limit the number of credits students can take per semester and required courses may not be available during certain semesters.
How Much Is a Master's in Health Informatics?
The cost of a master's degree varies by institution, but a degree in health informatics typically costs around $45,000. One of the most important cost considerations is the number of credits required to earn the degree. Program length typically ranges from 35 to 60 credits, and schools may charge anywhere from $200 per credit to over $1,400 per credit.
Tuition is not the only cost consideration when choosing a school. On-campus programs may charge fees for parking, technology, and food. Online programs often charge platform and technology fees. There are also housing costs to consider, which are determined by location and whether the school offers graduate housing. You may also be required to purchase a professional wardrobe for practicum experiences. Schools are required to disclose the total cost and fees of a program; you can typically find that information on their website or the catalog.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Health Informatics Prepares For
- Registered Health Information Administrator
There is a great demand for RHIAs in nonclinical settings, such as insurance companies, managed care providers, and software companies. You must be a graduate of a CAHIIM-accredited master's in health informatics program to sit for the exam.
- Certified Health Data Analyst
The CHDA exam certifies experts in health data analysis. Professionals gain knowledge in working with detailed health data and how to apply it to healthcare. Professionals with a CHDA are frequently sought as consultants and administrators for high-level projects. Candidates must have a master's degree, and professional experience in the field is recommended.
- Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security
The CHPS credential demonstrates advanced knowledge in comprehensive security systems to protect healthcare information. CHPS professionals frequently work in information technology at hospitals, government centers, and insurance companies. You must have a master's degree and two years of experience to sit for the exam.
- Certified Professional in Health Informatics
The CPHI credential is designed to meet the changing field of health informatics technology. It certifies master's in health informatics graduates in core competencies and provides additional knowledge as the field evolves. This designation leads to career advancement in the field.
Resources for Health Informatics Graduate Students
HFMA is an association of healthcare finance professionals that provides access to industry updates, a job board, and a free podcast on industry topics.
HCCA provides resources for compliance professionals in healthcare-related settings. Students can access a library and compliance dictionary as well as videos and podcasts. The association also provides multiple publications and white papers.
This blog is maintained by Key Management Group, a Health IT software developer. It offers news and updates in healthcare informatics. The blog includes topics on mobile healthcare, telemedicine, healthcare technology, and patient engagement.
The HIT Consultant website is a gateway to information and editorials on healthcare technology and analysis for executives and consultants. It provides coverage of policy changes, startups and partnerships, and changes in digital healthcare.
This website is a project of the Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). ONC provides oversight of the national switch to electronic health records. The blog provides frequent industry updates.
Professional Organizations in Health Informatics
Professional organizations are valuable resources for students and graduates. These membership-based organizations provide networking opportunities, and many employers recruit exclusively through professional organization job boards. Organizations may also provide continuing education programs to maintain credentials and annual conferences to learn about changes in health informatics.
AHIMA is the largest health information management organization and provides credentials and educational opportunities. It also sets industry policies and standards.
HIMSS is a nonprofit organization that advances the healthcare field through the application of information and technology. It provides professional development opportunities and a resource library. There are numerous chapters that invite graduate involvement.
AMIA is a membership organization that supports growth in the field through professional development, collaboration, and leadership-building. It offers a career center and provides awards for excellence in leadership.
ANIA is an association of nursing professionals focused on informatics nursing to improve patient care. It offers nursing scholarships and training opportunities.
Members of AHIP must undergo a peer review process and meet portfolio guidelines for acceptance. Members provide mentorship and specialized professional development opportunities.