Are you interested in a career track that is quickly overtaking the healthcare industry by storm? Do you often find yourself gravitating towards the technology side of healthcare? Would you like to be a healthcare manager that oversees the technological advances that the healthcare industry is experiencing? If you said yes to these questions, perhaps you should investigate a career track in health information technology, widely becoming known as Health Informatics.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (HHS, 2016) legislated new criteria for all healthcare entities, public and private, mandating new information technology requirements. Since that mandate, information technology/health informatics has been turned upside down, and the changes that are occurring are unprecedented. No longer are electronic information systems used just for the business aspect of healthcare like payroll, billing, and accounting. Health informatics has permeated every aspect of the industry – bar none.
Health informatics, due to this new federal requirement, has single-handedly forced the industry to increase the usefulness of patient data, comply with electronic health record criteria, mandated utilization of these systems for clinical decision support, logistics management for goods like medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, and of course, digitized radiography or imaging informatics, just to name a few.
Healthcare managers in every sector of the industry are being forced to learn about this area of expertise, otherwise, go the way of the dinosaurs. These changes are new to the past decade and are revolutionizing healthcare as we have known it.
Important Organizational Issues
In 2016, the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), conducted a research study of hospital CEOs, asking them to identify the top 10 issues confronting their hospitals today (ACHE, 2017).
Technology came in ninth out of those 10 concerns. The same survey asked CEOs to identify their top three most immediate concerns which turned out to be:
- Financial challenges
- Governmental mandates
- Patient safety and quality
The one common denominator found amongst these three areas is information technology/health informatics is required to accomplish their missions. Based on these concerns, one might ask that perhaps technology should be number one on the list?
A Recurring Theme
Information technology/health informatics is overtaking every aspect of the industry, as cited by Price Waterhouse Cooper (2016), and is a common recurring theme across the nation being addressed by healthcare managers at all levels. It is no coincidence that the healthcare industry has become totally dependent on an electronic age that is revolutionizing how business is conducted.
Regarding the top 3 concerns mentioned in the ACHE CEO survey, financial challenges impact a hospital, which is directly managed by health informatics.
Likewise, every governmental mandate that impacts a hospital is now directly impacted by health informatics in some way.
Patient safety and quality concerns are now solely reliant on the use of health informatics to bring about performance improvement.
Federal Government Takes the Lead: HealthIT
The federal government has now taken the lead on establishing all information technology standards pertinent to the healthcare industry (HealthIT.gov, 2017). This became necessary due to a fractured approach to management of healthcare - related information, by public and private healthcare providers, who continued to work in a highly-disorganized fashion, using technology that did not have the ability to communicate amongst like systems.
Health information technology (health IT), now makes it possible for health care providers to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information. Health IT now includes the use of electronic health records (EHRs) instead of paper medical records to maintain people’s health information (HealthIT.gov, 2017).
Health IT also brought to light many new areas being developed such as: meaningful use; the Health Information Exchange (HIE); interoperability; security/privacy/confidentiality; eHealth; and consumer health (HealthIT.gov, 2017).
As with healthcare managers in general, it is predicted that careers in information technology/health informatics is expected to grow tremendously over the next decade. This infographic from USF Health – Morsani College of Medicine demonstrates where some of those opportunities might be and what some career titles might be called.
New Business Models
As health informatics continues to move forward into the future, we will see advances being made that include new ways of doing business using cloud computing, medical banking, and analytics. The future of health informatics seems to have no end in sight, other than the limitations of our own imaginations. Someone, somewhere, is developing something new as we talk about this subject.
If you find yourself intrigued by this area of healthcare management after having read this information, you might be one of the few that could excel in this fast-paced environment that has very important implications for the industry.
If you love computers/informatics, and you appreciate the benefits that this area brings to every sector of healthcare, explore some more to see if you might be a good fit. The industry needs people who are passionate about this career track and the right opportunity might be right around the corner for you.
American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Research & Resources Website (2016), Top Issues Confronting Hospitals in 2015, https://www.ache.org/pubs/research/ceoissues.cfm
Price Waterhouse Cooper, Health Research Institute (2016). Top Health Industry Issues of 2016. http://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues.html
University of South Florida Health, Morsani College of Medicine, at https://d3kg4qvhicwk5t.cloudfront.net/resources/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/13221613/health-informatics-jobs-infographic1.jpg
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), Healthcare (2016). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-law/read-the-law/
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