Guest Column | February 7, 2017

Health Informatics And The Future Of Healthcare

HITO Scott Rhodes, Florida Polytechnic University

By Scott Rhodes, Vice Provost of Enrollment, Florida Polytechnic University

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and so are the ways physicians are handling patient information. New technology is paving the way to a completely revitalized system that efficiently handles patient information and finds trends. Making this technology possible are the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) and, specifically, STEM careers focused on health informatics.

Health informatics has already made significant improvements in the healthcare industry by tracking disease, evaluating hospital quality, and analyzing trends. It’s also proven its value by providing insights physicians can use to adjust treatment plans, ensure efficient protocols are in place, and expedite their clinical research.

The demand for informaticists will grow as the healthcare marketplace changes, driven in large part by the aging of Baby Boomers. Many of the nation’s top engineering colleges are anticipating that demand by offering health informatics degree programs. Here’s how STEM studies play a role in health informatics industry.

Career Growth

With each government push to adopt technology and ease the transition between paperwork and EHRs, the demand for health informatics grows. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of informaticists is expected to grow 15 percent between 2014 and 2024 — much faster than the average growth of all occupations for the entire U.S.

Health informatics focuses on data, technology and science, which fits entirely under the STEM umbrella. Most STEM programs offer the in-depth courses necessary to create more employable talent by bridging the gap between healthcare management and information science.

Learning Health Informatics

To make sure the next generation of informaticists are up to date and able to adapt quickly to the changing healthcare landscape, it’s important for universities to offer degree programs that emphasize hands-on learning in health IT, data analysis, and the healthcare system. Upon graduation from their chosen degree program, informaticists are expected to know:

  • Health informatics law including privacy, ethical, and operational issues that arise when electronic tools, information, and media are used in everyday healthcare delivery.
  • How to manage patient records and ensure they’re stored correctly.
  • Healthcare terminology, physiology, medical ethics, and medical laws and regulations.
  • Web application development, advanced quantitative methods, population health informatics, and computer architecture.

Hands-On Training

Hands-on training allows students to apply textbook concepts to real-world problems. With the appropriate training, informaticists can learn interdisciplinary skills and become more comfortable with systems they will use in the workplace. STEM instructors also draw on their own previous experience to advise, guide, and train students one-on-one, offering students unique insight into the health informatics field.

Students with STEM degrees will be in high demand as the need for qualified informaticists grows. An education that focuses on analyzing health biomedical data allows students to apply what they’ve learned firsthand to improve the health informatics sector for years to come.

About The Author
With an 18-year background in higher education, Scott Rhodes leads enrollment and recruitment strategies for Florida Polytechnic University. His responsibilities encompass undergraduate admissions, graduate enrollment and enrollment marketing, financial aid, student records, and registration and enrollment market research.