Analysis of a Health Informatics Job Description
One of the most fascinating aspects of health informatics is its versatility. Professionals from many backgrounds—healthcare, computer science, insurance, pharmacy, business, and more—have found their niche within the field. The duties on a day-to-day basis can vary from handling support tickets to holding training sessions to meeting with healthcare professionals and beyond.
Still, you may wonder if your talents and skills are the right fit for the job. To provide a clearer picture of the health informatics field, we combined a number of informatics-related job descriptions so that we could go through the major responsibilities and daily duties with you point-by-point.
Please note that the health informatics job description below is a simplified amalgamation from a number of advertised related positions across the U.S. at this point in time, and may not fully match what you see in your own job searches.
Sample health informatics job description
Seeking a Health Informaticist to assist with the administration of our organization’s electronic health record (EHR) and patient portal systems.
- EHR project implementation, testing and monitoring
- Understand the needs of end-users
- Observance of government and healthcare center regulations
- Analyze and optimize processes based on collected data
- Provide regular instruction to end-users
- Troubleshoot issues and concerns through a ticketing system
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE
- Bachelor’s degree required
- Master’s degree with focus on health informatics preferred
- 2 years’ successful experience in an IT or analytical role OR 1-3 years of relevant clinical experience preferred
- Experience leading projects and/or training multiple people preferred
- Healthcare experience and/or familiarity with electronic health records systems preferred
Let’s break that down a little further
EHR project implementation, testing and monitoring
The EHR system is a complex software that takes in, holds, and produces massive amounts of data every minute. It is often the health informaticist’s main responsibility to support the EHR system—or, in the case of some larger healthcare organizations, coordinate several EHR systems.
Health informaticists must come to understand their organization’s data needs and continuously evaluate the system’s EHR to see if it adequately meets those needs. The informaticist will need to communicate and collaborate with a number of other departments and serve as the liaison between IT, healthcare professionals, administration, and the EHR vendor—each of which has its own needs and expectations. They will have to plan implementation projects to introduce new features, fix system issues in both new and old features, find the most efficient way of guiding data both in and out of the system, and relentlessly test everything before pushing it to the live system.
Understand the needs of end-users
That being said, what works best in a test scenario does not always work in a healthcare setting. Physicians may request a feature that makes a patient portal more difficult to use for patients. A tweak by an EHR vendor to a user interface could frustrate a nurse who can no longer find the information she needs. Health informaticists must juggle all roles and all competing stakeholder requirements, while considering end-users of all ages, languages, technological adaptability, and learning abilities. They may also need to produce reports that verify the EHR system is following regulations on the healthcare center, state, and/or federal level—who are end-users of a different kind.
Understanding your audience, their needs and their frustrations and how you can help, is a must in health informatics.
Observance of government and healthcare center regulations
Health informaticists must navigate federal, state and hospital rules and regulations—especially those concerning HIPAA privacy and security. They must ensure that EHR processes will not affect patient safety and that any piece of data that enters the system cannot be accessed by those who do not have permission. Health informaticists may also need to attend occasional training sessions to keep apprised of regulatory changes.
Analyze and optimize processes based on collected data
In health informatics, data is your best friend. Informaticists sift through data and analyze it for trends and patterns to figure out the most efficiency way of running the systems they oversee. They may also need to validate that data against other sources, test third-party data for accuracy, build reports to share data with others, and so on. This takes honed critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
In addition, health informaticists may need to iron out a communication system and workflow process for their own team to make sure they are working as efficiently as they want their EHR system to work.
Provide regular instruction to end-users
Remember the last time Facebook changed its layout or your phone updated its software, and you had to figure out where all the menus had been moved to? Changes to EHRs aren’t usually as much of an overhaul, but healthcare professionals still need regular updates when features are added, removed, or edited in any way. Health informaticists may need to develop and maintain reference materials such as printed guides or digital tutorials, and coordinate training schedules on a regular basis—and don’t forget that instructing adults is a skill in its own right.
Troubleshoot issues and concerns through a ticketing system
This one is pretty straightforward. Any software will run into issues, compatibility issues with someone’s workflow or a new regulation, or an end-user’s misunderstanding. It’s the health informaticist’s job to tackle these issues as they arise, and put their skills to the test to solve each one. The ticketing system assists with documentation of the issue, so that you have a history of issues and can refer back to past solutions.
Education & Experience
Just about every health informatics position usually requires a bachelor’s degree at the minimum, but a master’s degree shows a higher level of understanding and commitment to the field, and helps you stand out among other job applicants.
As we mentioned earlier, health informatics draws in professionals from many backgrounds, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all requirement for experience. Likewise, healthcare or clinical experience is generally a broad term, as this could mean working in healthcare IT, as an administrative assistant, as a nurse, administrator, or other health professional. What they’re really looking for is a familiarity with the clinical workflows you’re going to be building the EHR around. Even this may not be a hard-and-fast requirement in some health informatics job descriptions, as some employers prefer an aptitude for troubleshooting and problem-solving rather than time spent in a healthcare setting.
Is your interest piqued?
If you want to know more about working in health informatics beyond the job description, you can download our infographic on health informatics salaries and skill requirements for a range of positions.Graduate Programs in Health Informatics | Health Informatics | Master of Science in Health Informatics