Technology is a key driver of progress in the health care industry. One of the best examples of this is health informatics, a field focused on gathering, analyzing and managing health-related data within the context of technology-driven health information systems.
By integrating innovations like electronic health records (EHRs) and health data analytics into a health care organization’s strategies, health informatics professionals gain a better understanding of individual health. This can enable them to build more effective, efficient care delivery plans that may benefit the patient in numerous ways, from reduced clinical visits to improved outcomes.
The versatility of health informatics also makes it an essential tool for managing public health, as it can be applied to the creation and execution of more effective policies and programs. These applications have created a range of dynamic health informatics careers in the public health field. Individuals with an interest in health care and a background in computer science or information technology (IT) may want to consider adding an advanced degree like a Master of Public Health (MPH) to their education to pursue these unique career paths and build a future in the health care industry.
What’s the Role of Health Informatics in Public Health?
Informatics has had a major impact on both health information technology (HIT) and how medical research is practiced and applied, but health informatics can also be applied to public health issues to help professionals make more informed decisions and build more effective strategies.
For example, health informatics can be used to build strategies to help prevent chronic diseases or slow the spread of outbreaks. It can also be used to build effective health promotion strategies, as the data generated by informatics can be used to demonstrate the benefits of healthy lifestyles and decisions. Additionally, it can be applied to explore the relationships among health, environmental conditions, workplace conditions or other social factors.
Health informatics provides the data necessary to develop these strategies, which can potentially lead to healthier individuals, reduce hospital visits and reduce health care costs.
7 Careers in Public Health
Like other forms of data, the information only works if it’s properly gathered, analyzed, interpreted and stored. Professionals in several health informatics careers in public health are working to ensure the proper execution of these elements of the process.
1. Health Informatics Specialist
Health informatics specialists gather and analyze key health care data in various health care settings. They work with other health care professionals to identify patterns in public- or patient-specific scenarios, including patterns picked up on an EHR.
An advanced degree in public health is considered the role’s educational benchmark. The median annual salary for the role is approximately $71,000 as of June 2023, according to Payscale.
2. Health Information Management Manager
Sometimes known as medical record technicians, HIM managers store and oversee health care information received from a wide range of health care professionals. They ensure that the data they receive is accurate and complete, and they also ensure that all data collected is stored securely, which can include being protected from potential cyber attacks.
While a two-year degree is considered the benchmark for the role, an advanced public health degree can allow an individual to stand out in the field. The median annual salary for an HIM manager is approximately $63,000 as of June 2023, according to Payscale.
3. Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts scrutinize an organization’s various computer systems and processes to ensure optimal efficiency. They also identify system weaknesses and develop solutions to fix these vulnerabilities. In health care organizations, the professional in this role can be an essential component of effective health systems management.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science and information technology or an adjacent field is the career’s benchmark, but an MPH degree can help a computer scientist focus on the public health sector. The median annual salary for computer systems analysts was $99,270 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
4. Nursing Informatics Specialist
Also known as a nurse informaticist, a nurse informatics specialist integrates data analysis with traditional nursing responsibilities to make strategic decisions that optimize care delivery. The decisions within this role are holistic, and they typically aim to optimize the positive impact for various stakeholders, including patients, consumers, health care teams and nursing staff.
While an undergraduate degree is considered the minimum education requirement, an advanced degree can help individuals focus their career path. The median annual salary for the role was approximately $86,100 as of January 2023, according to Payscale.
5. Clinical Analyst
Clinical analysts develop, implement and oversee computer networks for health care facilities of various sizes. They’re also responsible for ensuring that the networks are properly maintained and they’re tasked with managing system upgrades when necessary.
A bachelor’s degree in health informatics or a related field is the minimum requirement for the role, although earning an advanced public health degree can help prepare individuals to conduct their work in the public health sector. The median annual salary for the role is $75,300 as of June 2023, according to Payscale.
Biostatisticians apply math and statistical methodologies to formulate predictive models for various phases of a research project, from clinical studies to the presentation of findings to other health care professionals. The role is commonly linked to epidemiology, but distinctive differences exist between a biostatistician and an epidemiologist. The primary difference is focus: While epidemiologists focus on the development and patterns of disease, biostatisticians focus on a broader scope of health and public health concepts.
While a bachelor’s degree in a field such as math or statistics may be considered the educational benchmark for the role, many employers require the completion of an advanced degree for employment consideration. The median annual salary for mathematicians and statisticians, including biostatisticians, was $96,280 in 2021, according to the BLS.
7. Public Health Analyst
Public health analysts study current public health issues and develop solutions to minimize their impact on society. They can focus on combating specific diseases or health conditions, developing programs promoting proactive health, or getting communities involved with various health initiatives.
While a bachelor’s degree in public health or a public health-adjacent field is the required benchmark, some employers may list an MPH as the minimum degree for the role. The median annual salary for public health analysts was approximately $69,400 as of May 2023, according to Payscale.
Key Skills for Health Informatics Careers
The essential skill set for a role in the health informatics field is a combination of hard and soft skills. The combination allows individuals to not only accurately address data but also share what the data means to others.
Effective health informatics professionals must have strong technical skills. They must possess a deep knowledge of the common components of a health informatics system, including hardware, software, computerized medical devices and electronic record storage. Additionally, they must keep abreast of the latest innovations of health care technology so that they can keep their systems current.
Strong analytical skills are also essential for the career. The skills required involve knowing how to not only gather and study data but also interpret the data. This can spell the difference between data that produces optimal results and data that yields disappointing outcomes.
Health informatics professionals also rely on soft skills to maximize the effectiveness of using data. Strong communication skills allow health informatics pros to share data findings with others clearly and unambiguously. They must also have strong problem-solving skills to find solutions to any issues that may crop up during the analytical process.
Build a Career in Health Informatics
Those who choose health informatics careers can be an integral part of the research, planning and implementation of strategies to improve public health. Augusta University Online’s MPH in Health Management program can help prepare you to make such a positive impact. Our program is designed to deepen the knowledge and skills you already have, equipping you with the confidence you need to be a leader in public health. Learn how we can help you make a bigger impact on the lives of others.
American Medical Informatics Association, Informatics: Research and Practice
Betterteam, Clinical Analyst Job Description
Betterteam, Health Informatics Specialist Job Description
Health Catalyst, “The Three Essential Responsibilities of a Nurse Informaticist”
Houston Chronicle, Role of the Health Information Management Professional
Indeed, Biostatistics: Definition and How to Become a Biostatistician
Indeed, Computer Systems Analyst Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications
Indeed, 10 Jobs for Health Informatics Professionals With Master’s Degrees
Indeed, What Does a Public Health Analyst Do? (Plus Skills)
Payscale, Average Clinical Analyst Salary
Payscale, Average Health Informatics Specialist Salary
Payscale, Average Health Information Management (HIM) Manager Salary
Payscale, Average Nursing Informatics Specialist Salary
Payscale, Average Public Health Analyst Salary
TechTarget, “Health Informatics”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Systems Analysts
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mathematicians and Statisticians