The Hofstra Health Advocate

4 Ways Health Informaticists Are Transforming Healthcare

There’s an emerging branch of health professions transforming public health. Health informatics brings together healthcare and information technology, the objective of which is to improve the quality and safety of patient care through the delivery, management, and planning of healthcare services. The field is growing rapidly, and for good reason. Here’s a few ways health informaticists are transforming healthcare.

Shared Knowledge Benefits All

The body of knowledge surrounding healthcare is ever expanding as new studies and findings emerge. Likewise, an education in any healthcare field is a lifelong endeavor. Between busy work schedules and the sheer volume of new information out there, it’s difficult for healthcare providers to keep up. Healthcare informatics provides an easier way to sort through, share, and disseminate information on everything from patients, diseases, therapies, medicines, treatments, and more. This helps clinicians and providers customize treatments and find the most up-to-date research, which leads to better outcomes for patients.

Health informaticists also make it easier for patients and their providers to communicate quickly, making care more efficient and accurate.

Patients are More Involved in Their Care, Improving Outcomes

“Health informaticists and leaders understand that we’re moving in a very rapid pace towards technology as a delivery system,” says Mr. Mercado. The result? Technology that enables patients to take a more proactive role in their healthcare and the treatments they receive.

For example, digital care portal and electronic records allow patients the opportunity to better track and educate themselves about their diagnoses and prognoses, medications, treatment schedules, and symptoms. They can also more readily interact with healthcare providers regardless of time or location.

Healthcare Improves as Providers Coordinate Efforts

A concern of modern healthcare practices is that as healthcare becomes more and more specialized, care between providers becomes less and less coordinated. For example, someone experiencing joint pain may be referred to a number of other specialists before getting to the root of their pain. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for patients to receive care from a dozen or more practitioners in a single hospital stay.

As healthcare fields increasingly focus on niche areas, health informaticists help provide clinicians and practitioners a way to view all patient data – such as blood levels, allergies, nutrition, physical therapy, etc. – so that they can coordinate their efforts to improve the patient experience and their outcomes.

Making Healthcare More Affordable

There are numerous inefficiencies in healthcare, which raises costs for everyone. Many medical procedures are repeated, stalled, or not completed. Dated methods of information sharing, such as printed files and manual schedules, are slower and less reliable than their electronic counterparts. These types of inefficiencies have the potential to create delays and errors in care – both of which come with their own list of expenses. The result is not only delayed care and increased costs for patients.

“A lot of healthcare is a numbers game,” says Mr. Nicholas Mercado, Program Director of the Master of Science in Health Informatics at Hofstra University. “Whether you’re talking about clinical outcomes or patient satisfaction data – all that is a numbers game. That’s ultimately what health informaticists simplify for clinicians. They have a reservoir of data to take to leadership and say, ‘here’s what we observed over the last months and years, and this has shown us how to create something better.”

What’s the Career Potential?

If career outlook is important to you, you’re in luck. The demand for Health informatics professionals is growing fast. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a substantial growth in the need for people who are trained at the masters level and beyond in health informatics,” says Mr Mercado. “The need for aspiring leaders in healthcare is certainly going to grow.” In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for healthcare informaticists will grow 13% through 2026.

Careers include health information systems specialists, health data analysts, managers and consultants. Health informaticists can find work in a variety of settings including health information technology businesses, healthcare service providers such as hospitals and clinics, and public health agencies.

Master’s Programs, Like Hofstra’s, Lead the Way

At Hofstra, students can expect a well-rounded curriculum that will help them facilitate the dissemination and analysis of healthcare information. The curriculum includes courses on the history and future of the U.S. healthcare system, statistics and analytics, clinical decision support, healthcare security and privacy, healthcare management, and more.

Students also get exposed to, and build relationships with, professionals from all areas and levels of healthcare. As Mr. Mercado explains, “Not only do we have an interdisciplinary way of doing things within our student body, our graduates are going on to work with all different health professionals. They’re working with executives at the top, middle managers, and people who are the boots on the ground.”

But what really differentiates the program is the experiences students walk away with. “We tailor the program to students’ specific needs and address whatever knowledge gaps they may identify,” says Mr. Mercado. “The cornerstone of this program is the practical experience.”

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