Since the passing of The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), which requires health care providers to create and maintain electronic health records (EHRs) for every patient, there has been a boom in the healthcare informatics field. Multiple new career paths have emerged and created thousands of new employment opportunities for those in the IT and healthcare fields. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSL) is predicting that healthcare informatics will grow at a very high rate of 22% through 2022. This is more than twice the projected growth of employment overall.
Are you wondering what a career shift towards healthcare informatics might look like and what kind of education and experience you need to achieve success? In particular, you might be wondering whether an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics, is worth it or if you can rely on your bachelor’s degree to get those top healthcare informatics jobs. We will answer this question and more.
What Can a Masters in Healthcare Informatics Do for Me?
The main reason you should consider obtaining an advanced degree in healthcare informatics is that a majority of jobs in healthcare informatics require a combination of both nursing/clinical and IT clinical skills – a combination of skills that is hard to come by with strictly a bachelors degree and relevant experience. In a 2014 report, Burning Glass Technologies reported that, “many health informatics jobs are hybrids that require skill sets from multiple disciplines which are typically not trained together.” This means that people trained in one of the required areas might not possess other skills required in the new job. However, a master of science degree in healthcare informatics offers an interdisciplinary approach that is necessary for competing in today’s competitive healthcare industry.
For example, let’s look at the role of a Clinical Analyst. This is a relatively newly developed position. Clinical Analysts are tasked with assisting clinical staff with healthcare IT systems, managing patient records, and compiling and interpreting data. These Clinical Analyst positions take 15% longer to fill than the average time needed to fill other employment positions due to the specific skillsets required.
It is these clinical analyst type of positions where a Masters in Healthcare Informatics becomes a necessity. Since most professionals pursuing healthcare informatics come from either an IT or a healthcare background, an advanced degree can help you learn and develop the skills in the area you lack, making you fully qualified for a career in health informatics.
Aside from that, many of the top positions in healthcare informatics prefer candidates with higher educational levels, such as a master’s degree. These positions include, Director of Clinical Information Systems, Nursing Informatics Specialist, Chief Medical Information Officer Health Informatics Consultants, and most leadership roles within clinical IT departments.
How Much Does a MS in Healthcare Informatics Cost?
Once you have decided to pursue a Masters in Healthcare Informatics, naturally, the next question is not only how much money but also how much time the program will take for you to complete.
We recommend pursuing a master’s program when you’re already gainfully employed. Doing this will help you improve your career, your title, and your salary at the same time. As a full-time student, you can expect the program to take approximately two years to complete.
Masters degree program fees usually depend on several factors. For instance, do you qualify for financial aid? If so, your out-of-pocket contribution might be reduced. Another element to consider is whether or not your employer offers tuition reimbursement benefits or other educational incentives. Please visit here to find out tuition fees for Sacred Heart’s MS in Healthcare Informatics.
How Much Will I Earn?
Recently, Healthcare IT News published an article on the perks of being a healthcare informatics professional and high salaries topped the list! According to the article, the complexity of the position and rarity of the skill set make healthcare informaticists extremely valuable.
As employers scramble for the limited number of highly trained experts in this field, the average salaries will continue to remain high. In mid 2015, the average salary of health informatics professionals was $111,378.52 according to an annual compensation survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). By the beginning of 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the average pay at $135,900. As the demand for these professionals grow, the salaries will only continue to increase.
What’s more, some of the lucrative positions available to individuals with a masters degree in healthcare informatics pay up to three times more than the average salary. Take the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) position, for example. A majority of CMIOs earn between $300,000 and $349,000 per year!
Pursuing a masters in healthcare informatics will not only fill gaps in your education and experience, but it will also set you apart from the competition, allowing you to take up more satisfying, challenging, and higher paying career paths within the healthcare IT industry.