Health Care Informatics

Do You Need to be Certified in Health Informatics?

One of the most common questions from those interested in the field of health informatics is, “Do I need to a health informatics certification?” The answer varies depending on where you want to work and in what capacity. However, in general, because the field of health informatics is so new, many employers are still trying to determine what skill set to screen for and as a result look for certifications as a third party endorsement of a candidate’s knowledge and abilities. In addition to validating a candidate’s skills, a certification can help experienced informaticians stand out from the competition.

Yet, when it comes to earning a certification in health informatics there are a number of options to choose from.

Health Informatics Certificate vs. Health Informatics Certification

First, let’s quickly go over the difference between a certificate and certification.

The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) was quoted by AHIMA as noting:

An assessment-based certificate program is a non-degree granting program that: (a) provides instruction and training to aid participants in acquiring specific knowledge, skills and/or competencies associated with intended learning outcomes; (b) evaluates participants’ achievement of the intended learning outcomes; and (c) awards a certificate only to those participants who meet the performance, proficiency or passing standard for the assessment(s), (hence the term, “assessment-based certificate program”).

Professional or personnel certification is a voluntary process by which individuals are evaluated against predetermined standards for knowledge, skills, or competencies. Participants who demonstrate they meet the standards by successfully completing the assessment process are granted a time-limited credential. To retain the credential, certificants must maintain continued competence. The credential awarded by the certification program provider denotes that the participant possesses particular knowledge, skills, or competencies.” 

Health Informatics Certification Options

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)

HIMSS offers two certification paths. Their first certification, CAHIMS, is for those interested in entering the informatics field but lack experience and training.

Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS)

Designed for emerging professionals who may or may not have experience within the industry. CAHIMS is designed to be a pathway for careers in health IT.

certificate renewal Renewal: Must be renewed every 3 years
exam format Exam Format: 2-hour test with 115 multiple choice questions
eligability Eligibility: Must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)

The second HIMSS certification, CPHIMS, is for experienced practitioners and is a professional certification program for experienced healthcare information and management systems professionals.

certificate renewal Renewal: Must be renewed every 3 years
exam format Exam Format: 2-hour test with 115 multiple choice questions
eligibility Eligibility: Must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and:

  • Have five years of information and management systems* experience, with three of those years in a healthcare setting.

OR

  • Hold a graduate degree or higher from an accredited college or university and have three years of information and management systems experience, with two of those years in a healthcare setting. 

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

As the name implies, the ANCC certification is the perfect choice for current practicing nurses interested in the informatics field. As opposed to HIMMS certifications, ANCC tailors their program specifically for RNs.

Registered Nurse Board Certified (RN-BC)
renewal Renewal: Must be renewed every 5 years
exam format Exam Format: Computer based test consists of 175 questions
eligability Eligibility: To be eligible for the ANCC informatics certification, you must hold a current active RN license; hold a bachelor’s or higher degree in nursing or  a relevant field; have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse; have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics nursing within the last 3 years and meet one of the following practice hour requirements:

  • Have practiced a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
  • Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last 3 years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program.
  • Have completed a graduate program in informatics nursing containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics nursing.

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

The AHIMA Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification was designed for those interested in managing patient health information, analyzing data and administering computer information systems. As AHIMA notes, RHIAs are “a critical link between care providers, payers, and patients.” AHIMA’s certification is similar to HIMSS CPHMS certification. They also offer an entry-level certification, RHIT, for those looking for a career as a health informatics technician.

Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
renewal Renewal: Must be renewed every 2 years
exam format Exam Format: 4 hour, 180 multiple-choice questions
eligability Eligibility: Successfully complete the academic requirements, at the baccalaureate level, of an HIM program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Successfully complete the academic requirements, at the master’s level, of an HIM program accredited by CAHIIM and following a specific set of criteria.

 

  • Master’s level candidates must use the Master’s Program Exam Application below

OR

  • Graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement.
Certified Professional in Health Informatics (CPHI™)

AHIMA has also announced that it will be launching a new informatics credential in early 2017, the Certified Professional in Health Informatics (CPHI™). While full details are still emerging, the beta testing phase will begin in December 2016. Qualified applicants interested in taking part in the beta exam will be able to do so at a reduced cost of $119. To learn more visit the CPHI web page.

The credentialing exam will cover areas such as data analysis and utilization; data reporting; data management, privacy, and security; database management; management of HIM systems and processes; health informatics training and project management.

certificate renewal Renewal: TBD
exam format Exam Format: TBD
eligability Eligibility:Applicants must meet one of the following eligibility requirements to sit for the exam:

· A baccalaureate degree and two (2) years of health informatics experience

· A master’s degree or higher and one (1) year of health informatics experience

· A master’s degree in health informatics from an accredited health informatics program

American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)

The AMIA is also working towards the launch of a new certification intended for advanced informatics practitioners who have significant education and experience in the field. According to AMIA, this new certification, dubbed the Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC) will “join the Medical Subspecialty of Clinical Informatics as the standard bearer for the highest and most rigorous level of evaluation for health informatics professionals.”

Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC)
renewal Renewal: TBD
exam format Exam Format: TBD
eligability Eligibility: Must actively practice health informatics with an operational focus on information and knowledge problems that directly impacts the practice of health care, public health, and personal health; and have earned:

 

  • A master’s degree or higher in a primary health profession and a master’s degree or higher in health informatics

OR

  • A doctoral degree in a field characterized as having its primary focus in clinical or health informatics;

and have:

  • 18 months of health informatics experience over a 3-year period that has been completed within the past 5 years in either the United States or Canada

If you are interested in beginning or advancing a career in health informatics, earning your certification will help enhance your resume and demonstrate that you are qualified for a position with top employers in the field. The University of San Diego offers a 100% online Master of Science in Health Care Informatics that will prepare you for certification by HIMSS, ANCC, AHIMA or AMIA. To learn more about this 24-month program that is offered through USD’s top-ranked Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, speak with an admissions advisor today.

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