Health informatics is the study of data collection, storage, and retrieval. It is the intersection between the fields of health and computer science, and as such, the curricula of health informatics programs contain courses from both subject areas. In particular, certificate programs in health informatics are designed for students who have already obtained at least a bachelor’s degree education. They teach students how to manage information systems and design databases that meet strict confidentiality standards.
Types of Health Informatics Certificates
Vocational Certificate in Health Information
Students who would like a foundation in health informatics, but who don’t want to commit the time and money to earning a degree, should consider vocational certificates in health information. These certificate programs will teach them how to maintain patient records and code patient information. They will also learn how to handle insurance claims and process reimbursements. Finally, course work will involve instruction over ethnics and confidentiality as well. To gain admission into such programs, students typically need to have the following:
- High school diploma or the equivalent.
While enrolled, students will learn about medical terminology, biology, and medical transcription. They will become acquainted with the process of medical coding and will also practicing using the software used to keep electronic health records. The best online certificates in health information will also include instruction over general medical office administration. In total, the certificate should take around a year to complete if students attend the program on a full-time basis.
Pre-master’s certificates in health information are designed for students who already have some health experience. They expand upon the knowledge acquired during the bachelor’s degree education and teach students about medical records in greater detail. Many certificate programs at this level will also include computer science classes in areas like database administration and information security. Typically, to gain admission, students must have the following:
- Bachelor’s degree in a health-related field.
- Work experience in a health-related field.
- Passing GRE score.
After graduating, students will know how to design and operate programs dedicated to data collection. They will also gain the management skills necessary for advancing into supervisory positions. Finally, students should also develop a good grasp of health policy. The certificate can take anywhere between a year to two years to complete, depending upon how many classes students take each term.
The post-master’s certificate in health informatics is designed for students who want to complete a professional development program that will expand upon their leadership skills. These certificates are specifically geared toward students who already have a master’s level of education, but who want to pursue more knowledge in the field. They can take between one and two years to complete. Before being admitted, however, students typically need to have the following:
- Master’s degree in health informatics or a related field.
- Work experience in a health informatics position.
- Passing GRE scores.
- Recommendation letters.
Before graduating, students will take classes in systems design, systems evaluation, and management. They will learn to coordinate projects and see them through implementation. They will also become familiar with the issues that health management professionals typically face during day-to-day operations. Some certificates may include a practicum, during which students can gain some hands-on experience in the field.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Students who earn a vocational certificate in health information can go on to become health information technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that health information technicians earn around $32,350 annually. The field is growing rapidly, with careers expected by increase by 21% by 2020.
Those who earn higher certificates in health information can go on to work as health information managers or database administrators — positions that earn higher salaries, according to the BLS. Graduates can also work in information security or other, related fields.