If you’re pursuing a career in nursing, a physician’s assistant or virtually any ancillary healthcare field, you better have some high-tech analytics skills to back up your medical education and certifications. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has resulted in an almost exponential growth in digital billing and patient monitoring in today’s hospitals, doctors offices and physician groups.
Healthcare Has Discovered Big Data
Boston-based labor market analytics firm Burning Glass found that healthcare informatics job listings have risen more than 50 percent. Most in demand are jobs for clinical application developer—up over 230 percent in the last five years. Also doubling in demand is the need for coding compliance and review officers. Many healthcare executives say they’re already experiencing IT staff shortages due to the implementation of new technology, which they need to control and monitor activities in their organizations. Burning Glass found that many healthcare job postings now include health informatics jobs, since entry-level jobs have been upgraded to higher skilled, certificated positions. It seems that big data has invaded healthcare as evidenced by a tidal wave of growth in clinical applications. Result: hospitals and healthcare organizations are scrambling to fill positions that call for expertise in both IT and clinical care.
Medical Informatics Takes Center Stage
Also known as medical informatics and nursing informatics, health informatics jobs run the gamut from database administrators to network security specialists. All require at least a working familiarity with today’s medical database software and some IT knowledge. Medical codes, which specify how much Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance providers will pay for a service or procedure are being increasingly “siloed” in big data bases. The codes indicate whether a procedure is performed in an emergency setting, a physician's office or long-term care facility. Commercial databases that keep track of medical records need tech savvy healthcare professionals who are familiar with their operational and technical specs. There has also been an increased emphasis on security due to the widespread accessibility of sensitive medical records. Healthcare professionals need to know how to configure servers that store this data and create a hierarchy of individuals who can access it.
New Federal Mandates Underscore a Growing Need
New federal regulations now require healthcare providers to maintain patient records in electronic form and to ensure their security. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality underscores the need for medical informatics. They cite the example of MEDLINE®, a database that contains references to articles in biomedical literature maintained by the National Library of Medicine. This vast database has added more than 460,000 references in just one year, making it virtually impossible for physicians to keep up with the results of clinical trials and other studies. Creating structured accessibility is the key.
Colleges Are Taking Notice
Universities, colleges and healthcare schools are adapting their curricula to support job seekers eager to enter the emerging field of medical informatics. The University of Cincinnati offers an online Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics program. Other schools offering online programs in this field include Northeastern University and the University of Central Florida. To keep track of the latest developments in medical informatics, consider joining the American Medical Informatics Association.
If you’re pursuing a career in healthcare, make sure you bring yourself up to speed on medical informatics.
Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net