Many forms of data fall under the category of “health information.” This can be something specific to a single person, like a report detailing a child’s current white blood cell count, or information about a larger population, like a report that tracks how many people a facility treated for the flu this year. Whatever form it takes or through whichever process it is gathered, health information is an immensely valuable component of the health care process. If collected and analyzed properly, it can inspire innovative methods of treating illnesses or predicting future medical and patient issues before they occur. But for medical facilities to successfully utilize and interpret health information, they rely on the efforts of talented professionals working in health information management and health information technology.
Using Health Information to Identify Trends
Before diving into the differences of health information technology vs. health information management, it’s important to understand what health information is. According to the American Health Information Management Association, health information is the data related to a person’s medical history. These valuable data may include patient diagnoses, procedures or surgeries a patient has undergone, a physician’s clinical notes, or lab results recorded by a health technician.
With so many types of health information, informaticists can use it in more ways than just developing a treatment strategy for a single patient. If medical researchers were to analyze the health information of a 60-year-old male patient along with that of his peers, they could track broader trends and patterns, such as how men in that age group are showing unhealthy blood pressure ranges, or that members of his geographic community are becoming more susceptible to a certain type of illness or medical condition. Using the insights discovered by analyzing the trends in this data, medical institutions and businesses can develop programs and products to prevent and alleviate those health problems.
Similarities between health IT and HIM
To collect and interpret health information, medical professionals rely on individuals specialized in health information technology (health IT) and health information management (HIM). Health information technology pertains to the digital systems that collect and organize health information. Health information management not only incorporates the data that go into those systems but also analyzes and protects those data, according to the American Health Information Management Association.
Differences between the fields
Someone working in the HIT field might develop a new digital framework that enables providers to organize patient information more accurately. An individual working in HIM can access that framework and analyze health information in ways that might benefit patients and other members of medical communities. Without health information management, that advanced framework made possible by someone in the HIT field goes to waste. And without health information technology professionals, that health information cannot be as easily accessed and interpreted to benefit the medical community. When thinking about the differences in health information technology vs. health information management, it’s important to remember that both disciplines are necessary to fully extract the most value from health information.
Educational Path and Work Experience
For those interested in pursuing a career in health information technology, having a solid technical or IT background is a great advantage. An affinity for medicine, law, management, finance, and technology can also prove greatly beneficial to people working in this industry. It is possible for individuals to work in health information technology and health information management even if they don’t have a professional background relevant to those particular areas. Earning a Master of Health Administration (MHA) allows students to work in the growing HIM and HIT fields. Many MHA programs require students to have spent a certain number of years in the medical field, but this isn’t always the case. Regis College’s Master of Health Administration is one of the few degree programs that give students the flexibility to earn an MHA without having a background in health care.
Specialty Careers in Health Information
According to the Utah Health Information Management Association, some of the fastest-growing positions in the HIT field are information systems analyst, data analyst, and database administrator. Health information manager, compliance officer, and trauma and cancer registrar are a few of the job titles HIM professionals can hold. They can work at medical facilities, such as hospitals and clinics, as well as pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, and academic institutions.
Salary is another consideration for those deciding between health information technology and health information management careers. One of the more common professions in the HIT field is health services manager, which involves coordinating medical services and administrative activities for healthcare facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics professionals in this role earned a very competitive median annual salary of $98,350 in 2017. By completing the rigorous coursework featured in a Master of Health Administration program, graduates can develop a versatile set of managerial skills that will be essential to them as they work toward advancing into senior healthcare roles like this.
The online Master of Health Administration program at Regis College prepares graduates for success in the growing job market for health information management professionals. If you are interested in managing data for a health care organization, Regis encourages you to learn more about the MHA degree program today