The healthcare industry needs to collect information about patients and keep that information safe. We depend more and more on electronic devices and computer programs to maintain this data. As a result, there is greater demand for people who can manage these devices. Read on to learn about the career opportunities in health information technology (IT) and the scholarships that can help get you there.
Health information technology, or health IT, describes the technological framework used to manage health information digitally. “Health information” includes information such as:
- outcomes of doctor visits
- treatments given
- symptoms listed
- any other important details
Working in health IT involves managing computer hardware and software that records, stores, and transmits patient health data. This data is used by doctors to help treat the person in the future. It can also be added to a larger database. This can help researchers learn about medical conditions in a certain population.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment opportunities for health information technicians are growing more quickly than for other careers. This is likely because baby boomers need more medical care as they get older. More people also now have access to insurance because of healthcare reform laws. All of this means more patient information to record, store, and analyze.
On average, health IT professionals earn just over $93,000 per year. However, a variety of positions can be considered healthcare IT. Salaries vary depending on your level of education and position. In any health IT position, you may work at a:
- lab or testing facility
- private health practice
- health insurance company
- state or federal government agency
- private consulting firm
Much of the training and responsibilities are similar to other IT jobs. You will also need to understand the healthcare space. You may also need to learn different codes and terms. People who already have an information technology background may be able to transition easily into healthcare. Doctors, nurses, or others with clinical experience may also use their background to transition into health informatics. This is a division of health information management. It focuses on finding the most effective ways to record, store, share, and use health data safely.
Check out the different positions and job titles below.
Help desk employees are also called IT support. In this role, you would help other non-IT employees use their computers and technology correctly. This job generally requires an associate’s degree. The median annual salary is $51,470, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Software developers create computer programs and applications to help people do a specific task on a computer. They may also create the framework for a network or a system to run devices. These positions require a bachelor’s degree and have a median annual salary of $100,690, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Systems analysts study how an organization uses computer systems. They create solutions to improve efficiency and ease of use. These positions require a bachelor’s degree and have a median salary of $85,800, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Project managers oversee all IT operations within an organization. They determine which programs and systems will best serve an organization’s needs. These positions require a bachelor’s degree plus a master’s or a few years of work experience. The median annual salary is $131,600, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
To work with healthcare professionals and meet the industry’s growing needs, IT professionals also need some understanding of healthcare. As this field grows, more programs teach about information technology and how it is uniquely applied in the healthcare space.
These scholarships are meant to help students going into health IT specifically.
AHIMA Merit Scholarships
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) was originally founded in 1962 as an information resource for healthcare. Now it has become a leader in managing health information. The organization offers four scholarships divided by degree level, starting with $1,000 for an associate’s degree. There is also a separate scholarship fund for veterans.
HIMSS Foundation Scholarship
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a non-profit dedicated to improving healthcare through IT. It also has a foundation dedicated to education. It provides financial assistance to students wanting to join health IT fields. They offer three $5,000 scholarships — one for each level of study: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate.
Karen Schuvie Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded in honor or Karen Schuvie, an active member of the Kansas Health Information Management Association (KHIMA) who passed away unexpectedly in 1986. Her family requested that her memorial fund be used to help students in health information management. Her scholarship is one of four offered by KHIMA to undergraduate students.
Gallagher Health Careers Scholarship
Since 2001, the Gallagher Health Career’s Scholarship has given financial assistance to over 60 students pursuing health-related degrees, including in health IT. The program continues to grow and awards more scholarships each year. Students entering their junior or senior year of undergraduate studies are eligible.
ANIA Informatics Scholarships
This is a scholarship for people who are already in the medical field and who want to transition to working with data and information technology. The American Nursing Informatics Association awards four $3,000 scholarships. These go to applicants working toward a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing or healthcare informatics. The organization’s goal is to connect nurses who want to combine nursing and computer science to improve the healthcare space.