Health Information Technology vs. Health Informatics

Studying health information technology vs. health informatics can make a difference in the types of opportunities available to you upon graduation from one of these programs. Both may be appealing to students interested in using technology to advance the mission of the healthcare field. However, you may find a better fit in either health information technology or health informatics depending on your educational priorities, career goals and personal preferences.

What are Health Information Technology and Health Informatics About?

While the two fields are related, there are distinct differences between health information technology and health informatics. Health information technology involves the electronic exchange of health information. Professionals in this field implement processes related to electronic health records, electronic prescribing and interoperability of electronic medical records across multiple organizations.

Health informatics uses the data available through health information technology to secure, organize and evaluate data related to patient care. Health informatics professionals also work with electronic health records in an interdisciplinary approach to create new solutions using health information technology. Health informatics processes are intended to improve the delivery of public and private healthcare services.

What Would You Study in a Health Information Technology or Health Informatics Program?

The curriculum for health information technology vs. health informatics differs because the two programs typically are taught at different educational levels. A health information technology program often is offered as a post-secondary certificate or associate’s degree, while a health informatics program usually is designed as a bachelor’s degree, post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree.

Curriculum

Health Information Technology

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Computers in Healthcare
  • Electronic Health Records and Data Security
  • Health Data Content and Structure
  • Medical Terminology
  • Principles of Coding

Health Informatics

  • Clinical Decision Support
  • Foundation in Management Information Systems
  • Health Information Systems Analysis and Design
  • Healthcare Project Management
  • Public Health Informatics
  • Telemedicine

What Types of Jobs are Available in Health Information Technology vs. Health Informatics?

While you will find that employment opportunities differ when considering health information technology vs. health informatics, both types of professionals are employed in the same workplaces. There is a need for both specialties in physicians’ offices, hospitals, insurance companies, health technology companies and government health agencies. However, the duties and positions associated with health information technology and health informatics vary.

Responsibilities

Health Information Technology

  • Creating electronic health data files
  • Ensuring patient privacy and data security
  • Applying medical coding processes
  • Monitoring compliance of data processes with medical laws

Health Informatics

  • Designing patient data systems
  • Managing healthcare databases
  • Analyzing and compiling details of patient data
  • Coordinating IT initiatives for medical billing, research or regulation

Roles

Health Information Technology

  • Clinical documentation specialist
  • Medical coding specialist
  • Medical records analyst
  • Medical records coordinator

Health Informatics

  • Nurse informaticist
  • Chief medical information officer
  • Director of clinical informatics
  • Health IT consultant

What Should I Consider When Choosing Between the Two?

There are several considerations when choosing between health information technology and health informatics. Your educational priorities and career goals will affect your decision. Personality and work preferences also can determine the best choice for you.

You may prefer health information technology if you fit these criteria:

  • Desire a career that you can start with an associate’s degree
  • Require a program that can be completed entirely online
  • Have an interest in medical terminology or health insurance
  • Enjoy detail-oriented work that requires ensuring accuracy
  • Possess organizational skills to maintain complex databases
  • Have an aptitude for the technical skills necessary for programming

You may prefer health informatics if you fit these criteria:

  • Have prior experience in healthcare or IT
  • Want to pursue an advanced degree for career growth
  • Possess an analytical mindset
  • Desire to advance to managerial positions in healthcare IT
  • Enjoy collaborating with healthcare professionals
  • Have a comfort level in dealing with computing technologies

No matter which you choose, you’re positioned to have a promising future. Both industries have a favorable outlook for growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for these industries are expected to grow between 15 and 17 percent through at least the next decade, and the growth rate is more than double the average for all careers and professions in the same time period.

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