Are you intrigued by research and its clinical applications? Interested in helping patients make informed decisions that improve their health outcomes? If you answered yes to either of these questions, add health informatics to your list of disciplines to explore. Sometimes called medical informatics, those who are highly educated in both information science and health care can find a variety of opportunities to leverage their expertise in health informatics.
Specialization helps those working in health informatics to have the biggest impact for patients and their fellow health care professionals. The list is growing, but here’s a glimpse into what you might consider specializing in as a health informatics professional:
- Clinical informatics
- Clinical research informatics
- Consumer health informatics
- Dental informatics
- Mental health informatics
- Nursing informatics
- Pharmacy informatics
- Primary care informatics
- Public health/population informatics
- Telemedicine and mobile computing informatics
- Translational informatics
- Veterinary informatics
What does a career in health informatics look like exactly? It can involve acquiring, storing, protecting, retrieving and using a wide range of information about health and medicine. You’ll use both computerized and non-computerized information systems and have many chances to leverage your familiarity with clinical guidelines, workflows and medical technology depending on your position. Let’s dive deeper into two popular positions in this field: dental informaticist and nursing informaticist.
Dental informaticists take data to the dentist’s office
Dental informaticists look for ways to use computers and new technologies to enhance the practice of dentistry. Only about 20 years old, this field has great potential to impact dental research, education and patient care.
Dental informaticists have a range of goals, including:
- Creating electronic oral health records
- Developing devices that enable dentists to record patient information while examining the patient
- Enabling teledentistry
- Compiling geographic information for dental epidemiology studies
- Developing standardized vocabularies for dental diagnosis and treatment
- Supporting genetic studies in oral health
- Developing software for dental education
- Creating virtual reality simulators that let dental students practice clinical skills
- Developing automated systems to simplify dental office management
Nursing informaticists empower health care practitioners to make data-driven decisions
Nurse informaticists work in a variety of areas including health systems, business and industry and academia. As leaders in the field of health informatics, these professionals work as chief nursing informatics officers, clinical analysts, informatics nurse specialists and nurse data scientists.
The core areas of work for nurse informaticists are:
- Concept representation and standards to support evidence-based practice, research and education
- Data and communication standards to build national data infrastructure
- Research methodologies to disseminate new knowledge into practice
- Information presentation and retrieval approaches to support safe patient-centered care
- Information and communication technologies to address work flow needs across all care venues
- Vision and management for the development, design and implementation of communication and information technology
- Defining health care policy to advance the public’s health
Data and organization of information is just one of the many interests that can lead to a fulfilling health care career. While you’re deciding which path to go down — and you’ll have quite a few to consider since health care offers such a range of opportunities! — keep your talents and passions in mind to help you choose the best career.