The field of health information technology is experiencing explosive growth and offers tremendous earning potential (average health IT salary: $91,000, according to one survey). This makes health information technology a very attractive career option — both for experienced medical professionals as well as information technology professionals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites health information technology as one of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. Read on to learn more about health information technology jobs and careers paths, including:
- Specific health information technology jobs and salaries
- Helpful resources for those who aspire to a career in health IT
- Insight into how a master’s degree in health informatics can help you thrive in this fascinating, fast-growing field
Health Information Technology Career Paths
Development/Maintenance of Electronic Medical Records (EMR, EHR) Systems – The transition to electronic health records throughout the world of health care has created numerous career opportunities, from entry-level to supervisory and leadership roles. Health information technicians who work with electronic medical records are focused on developing, implementing, optimizing and maintaining hardware and software systems to manage health information and patient data.
Data Analytics – Health information specialists are needed to analyze data with an eye toward using the insights the data provides to improve health care programs and services. Hospitals may use such data to analyze trends and improve their administrative and patient care protocols. Health IT data analysts are also sought after by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical suppliers, public health administrators, and other industry players.
Medical Coding – Health care providers are seeking coding experts to help with coding clinical data for classification, reimbursement, planning and research. Key areas of specialty within the world of medical coding include such related disciplines as information governance, patient advocacy, privacy and security, and health informatics. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is emphasizing the importance of graduate degrees for health information professionals seeking to take advantage of these emerging career opportunities.
Education – The brisk demand for qualified workers in this fast-growing field means more opportunities in the education sector, as colleges, universities and professional associations offer certification and degree programs to help meet the ever-increasing need for professionals trained in health IT and health informatics.
Regulatory Compliance – In order to receive reimbursement for services under Medicare and Medicaid, health care providers and health systems must supply detailed information to the federal government about the care they provide and the outcomes they achieve. Created under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, the so-called “Meaningful Use” system awards financial incentives (as well as penalties) based on statistical analysis of the efficiency and quality of care provided. Health IT professionals who possess knowledge and experience in regulatory compliance are sought after by small and medium-sized practices and large medical organizations, as well as by private companies that help medical organizations efficiently comply with the applicable federal mandates.
Health Information Technology & Health Informatics Job and Salary Information
A survey of more than 400 health care IT professionals conducted by eHealth Careers found that health care IT workers in the U.S. earn an average of $91,251 per year and senior-level positions can pay well into the six figures annually. Here’s how the average salary breaks down by position:
- Chief Clinical Informatics Officer – $180,000
- Director of Clinical Informatics – $128,000
- Healthcare IT Project Manager – $102,000
- Nursing Informatics Specialist – $100,717
- Informatics Consultant – $94,360
- Clinical Informatics Coordinator – $84,058
Sources: AHIMA, CareersInPublicHealth.net
Health Information Technology
- Health Information Technology Executive – $127,500
- Health IT Management – $111,500
- Project Management – $100,000
- Software Development – $85,000
- Data Analyst – $83,000
- HIT Analyst – $80,000
- Systems Analyst – $80,000
- Health Information Educator – $69,000
- Health IT Consultant – $68,750
- Systems/Network Engineer – $67,500
Source: Health eCareers
Health Information Technology Career Resources
For medical or IT professionals looking to pursue new opportunities or to advance their current career in health information technology or health informatics, here are some helpful resources from leading industry sources.
How to Break Into a Career in Health Care IT — This article from Verywell Health offers an overview of health IT, the industry’s “explosive growth” and the two primary paths into this fast-growing field (clinical/medical professionals moving into IT roles; and information technology professionals gaining medical knowledge needed to excel in health IT). It also discusses key industry certifications and the value of having a master’s degree.
HealthIT.gov Careers Resource Page — The federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology offers informational and FAQ pages for those interested in careers in health information technology.
Guide to Health Information Technology Terminology — A glossary of key health information technology terms, acronyms and organizations (source: University of San Diego).
The American Health Information Management Association — Founded in 1928, AHIMA describes itself as “the premier association of health information management (HIM) professionals worldwide,” serving 52 affiliated state associations and more than 103,000 health information professionals. AHIMA offers a wealth of resources, from basic info about health IT to a Career and Student Center (with Job Bank and Career Map).
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society — HIMSS is a nonprofit founded in 1961 to serve as a forum for collaboration in the world of health care IT. HIMSS also administers certification exams for health IT professionals and awards Approved Education Partner status to organizations that meet rigorous standards for creating and delivering health care IT educational opportunities (for example, the University of San Diego and its master’s degree in Health Care Informatics program).
Careers in Health IT and Health Informatics: How a Master’s Degree Helps
The American Health Information Management Association released a report exploring how the fast-growing field of health care informatics is impacting career prospects for professionals working in health information technology (HIT) and health information management (HIM).
Titled “HIM Reimagined,” the AHIMA report asserts that, for many professionals working in HIM or HIT, “advanced degrees will play a pivotal role in their future.” One of the major recommendations in the report is to increase the number of professionals who hold “relevant graduate degrees,” including the increasingly sought-after master’s in health informatics. Read more about the AHIMA report here: “How Health Informatics is Shaping Future of Health Information Management.”