By Greg Bengel, contributing writer
An infographic from the University of Illinois at Chicago breaks down the role and importance of healthcare informatics
Informatics is a hot-topic issue in healthcare these days, and rightfully so. A startling 50 percent of healthcare dollars are currently wasted on inefficient processes, and providers know health IT can help. In a survey of 600 management professionals, 52 percent said they are holding out hope that EHRs will lower operational costs. These statistics come from a useful infographic recently released from the University of Illinois at Chicago called “The Intersection of Healthcare & IT,” which provides a great run-down of what healthcare informatics is all about and how it can help a provider organization.
What is perhaps the main take-away of the infographic is also the one that highlights the importance of providers paying attention to the field: 50,000 health informatics workers will be needed in the next five to seven years. Also, there is a 21 percent projected increase in health IT jobs between 2010 and 2020.
Health informatics, the infographic explains, is, “The science behind the convergence of healthcare, information technology, and business,” and it “Allows healthcare professionals to promote wellness, provide higher quality care, and protect patient safety.” Basically, it manages many of the areas that are giving providers such difficulty in the face of meaningful use incentive payments and HIPAA privacy laws, including EHRs available to patients, HIE exchanges between organizations, billing and reimbursement, research and analytics of healthcare financial trends, and more.
It is also a field that encompasses many different, more specialized areas of work (the infographic lists 10 right off the bat), and therefore is ripe for growth. For example, the healthcare industry needs people in the areas of pharmaceutical informatics, nursing informatics, public health informatics, and consumer informatics.
The infographic explains the benefits of health informatics. First of all is time and cost reduction. Health informatics can help the healthcare industry lower malpractice claims, automate time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks, eliminate the need for repeated tests and procedures, and streamline the care process. The infographic claims that the monetary benefits for large hospitals that apply EHRs over five years are between $37 and $59 million.
Secondly, health informatics leads to better care in general, as EHRs give providers better decision support, more accurate medical histories, and easier access to information across different organizations.
Health IT Outcomes recently touched on an HIMSS Analytics survey that found provider organizations and IT vendors alike are staffing up on their health IT talent. Check out the infographic for that survey here.