Online Medical Informatics Degree


The growth of the health informatics industry began in the early 1990s when many in the healthcare industry began to see benefits in electronically tracking healthcare throughout the world. Yet, until recently, the use of data in healthcare has largely been focused in research facilities with systems in smaller clinics, hospitals and other healthcare providing agencies determined by the administration of that system. Those systems have mainly been used to capture information related to billing and payment rules set forth by governmental agencies or insurance companies. Today, however, the world of health informatics has changed significantly.


Connection Between Healthcare and Information Science

Today, the healthcare industry realizes that there is a connection between the data collected by healthcare providers and methods to improve the industry. In addition, policy and payment changes have also increased the need for better data related to the treatment and quality of care in healthcare. Some of these reforms include:

• The HIPAA Privacy Rule of 2007

• Health Information Technology and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009

• Affordable Care Act

• New Rating Systems

• New Data Mining Technologies

These reforms have led to an increase in specific types of information technology jobs, including information specialists. One of the most important reforms, the Medicare Payment System bundled with the Affordable Care Act, makes healthcare providers liable for readmission or additional treatment required within 90 days of the initial treatment. This requires healthcare providers to use systems that monitor the quality of treatment to avoid additional costs.


New Rating Systems and Data Mining Technology

Other important changes to the healthcare industry are the incentives available through new rating systems that allow patients to choose low-cost providers that offer high-quality care. In addition, because the healthcare industry generates a significant amount of data, new data mining technologies will be necessary to compile, analyze and report data using information from the clinical as well as the financial aspect of a healthcare organization. These factors will lead to changes in the way many healthcare organizations will make decisions related to patient care and treatment.

The need for professionals with extensive background in healthcare informatics is expected to grow tremendously over the next few years. This will mean additional educational requirements for those who are interested in entering the health informatics field. For some, this could mean a need for flexible programs such as UIC’s online medical informatics degreeprogram or another type of higher education that provides the education necessary while allowing time for work, family and social obligations. As the industry grows, the need for qualified individuals to fill vacant positions will also grow, and online programs offer the ability for an individual to advance in their career or to move into a new career while continuing to meet other obligations.