When you complete a masters in health informatics (MHI) degree, you will have advanced skills and knowledge in both computers and in healthcare. You will hold responsibility for ensuring that data about the healthcare system is collected properly, and that it is retrieved, analyzed, and used in a way that serves a purpose, using various electronic services. Overall, there is an increased demand for people with an MHI degree, and they attract interesting salaries.
Understanding Health Informatics
The field of health informatics is charged with managing and analyzing healthcare records through computers and other forms of technology. The goal is to improve various healthcare outcomes, both in terms of patient satisfaction and in terms of budget constraints. Someone with an MHI degree understands medical computers, communication systems, and terminology. They are the overarching responsible individuals for all information maintained within the healthcare system, determining who can access it and why. This includes insurance companies, nurses, and doctors. Rapid growth is being experienced in the field.
How to Get the Best Masters in Health Informatics Salary
Completing an MHI degree requires a significant investment of time and money. Due to the popularity of the degree, it is now often available in online formats. However, while this does make the program more flexible, you will still have to make that investment, and this means you are likely to want to see a return on that investment as well. There are various factors that have a strong influence on what your eventual salary will be.
1. Your Degree Program
The first key factor that influences how much you are likely to earn is which program you graduate from. Each program offered across the country has its own particular strengths, and choosing between them is mainly down to understanding your personal preferences and how the school meets those preferences. That said, you should only choose a program that has received the proper accreditation, with the most respected accrediting body, which is the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
Another important factor relating to your degree is the level at which you study it. Many employers continue to accept bachelor’s degree holders. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a medical and health services manager is $94,500 per year at bachelor’s degree level. However, obtaining a master’s degree, on average, increases salary expectations by around $15,000 per year.
2. Where Your Work
The next important factor is where you work. There is a demand for MHI degree holders in a variety of different industries that are all related to healthcare. These include:
• Hospitals and clinics
• Physician’s practices and private offices
• Insurance companies
• Federal agencies
• Pharmaceutical companies
• Medical associations
• Nonprofit health associations
• Public health agencies
Each of these industries offer their own pros and cons. Some, for instance, may pay more, but provide less job satisfaction. Others may pay less, but offer stronger job security. Others still may offer a wealth of interesting bonuses and other remuneration options, but lower salaries. As such, you need to work out what are the most valuable to you, looking above and beyond your yearly pay.
According to the BLS, the national average salaries for the top employers for health services managers (at bachelor’s degree level), are:
• Private, local, and state hospitals, with average earnings of $102,060
• Government agencies, with average earnings of $101,190
• Offices of physicians, with average earnings of $85,600
• Home healthcare services, with average earnings of $82,430
• Nursing and residential care facilities, with average earnings of $78,540
3. Geographical Location
Another key factor is where your place of work is located. Certain parts of the country traditionally have companies that offer higher salaries. That said, many of those locations also have an increased cost of living. You must, therefore, calculate what your disposable income will actually be, and how far that will get you, rather than solely looking at average annual salaries. The top states for employment in the field of health informatics are:
• New York, with an average annual salary of $128,470
• California, with an average annual salary of $123,660
• Illinois, with an average annual salary of $101,840
• Texas, with an average annual salary of $101,270
• Ohio, with an average annual salary of $96,660
4. Your Job Title
Another important factor that will have an impact on your salary is the actual job you will hold. Popular positions within the field of health informatics include:
• Health Informatics Consultant, with earnings starting at $80,000 according to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
• Health Informatics Director, with earnings extending up to $100,000 per year according to AHIMA
• Nursing Informatics Specialist, with average earnings of $100,717 per year
• Chief Medical Information Officer, with earnings of between $100,000 and $200,000 per year
• Electronics Medical Records Keeper, with earnings of up to $131,600 per year
• Healthcare IT Project Manager, with earnings around $102,000 per year
5. Your Level of Experience
The more experience you have in a job, the more you will earn. If you were already involved in the field of healthcare in particular before you completed your MHI degree, it is likely that you will enjoy a higher starting salary. However, most people take on an entry level position and then climb through the ranks. For instance, a newly hired Director of Health Informatics generally enjoys a salary of $62,031 per year. In a larger facility with several years’ experience, this can grow to $101,209. Eventually, a Health Informatics Director can be promoted to Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO), and enjoy a salary in excess of $200,000.
Updating Your Skills
It is important to see the field of health informatics as a career in which you can grow, as the above has also demonstrated. This also means keeping your skills up to date, not in the least because both the field of healthcare and the field of computer sciences continuously develop. As such, it is recommended to undergo certain forms of training at regular intervals. The more highly trained you are, the greater the salary you will attract as well. Some of the key skills employers are looking for in health informatics include:
• An understanding of clinical procedures
• An understanding of medical terminology
• Leadership skills
• Communication skills
• Project management skills
• Computer programming abilities
• Analytical skills
Depending on on your background, you may need more training in these fields. For instance, if your background is in computer science, it will not be necessary for you to also be trained in computer programming. On the other hand, if your background is in nursing, you won’t need training in clinical procedures.
CareerBuilder.com ranked health informatics as the #1 emerging job opportunity in the country. That said, while there are obvious benefits to this position, including a very attractive salary, it also has some drawbacks. The greatest drawback is that you won’t see that six figure income until you have completed your MHI degree and have several years of experience. Additionally, it is a very stressful job in which you will have very little direct human interaction, which some consider to be an advantage but others find to be a disadvantage. It is likely that you will work in excess of 40 hours per week, not in the least because of the emergency needs of “big data”, the recent implementation of ICD-10, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the potential changes President Donald Trump will be bringing. That said, your skills and experience will be in high demand across a wealth of organizations and you will be compensated very well.
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