The goal of health informatics is to use technology to improve patient outcomes and ensure that people receive the best care possible. This can include aspects such as telemedicine, stocking and dispensation of appropriate medicine, and ensuring on-time attendance at appointments. As advances in healthcare can immediately have a big impact on individuals in need, this sector is fast-paced and constantly chasing new innovations.
Potential employers in this industry can include government health agencies, medical technology, pharmaceutical, research, insurance, and private healthcare organisations. Working in this sector could involve facilitating the sharing of sensitive healthcare data across organisations, or putting healthcare into the hands of patients by allowing them to access their own medical records.
The majority of graduate-level positions in this industry usually require a technology degree, or prior experience with software and app development. Knowledge of how the healthcare industry works is not necessary – that’s something you’ll likely only pick up on the job!
The type of work you can expect as a graduate in this sector will differ depending on what kind of organisation you work for. For instance, a hospital or healthcare provider may require you to manage and archive data about patient records and treatment, a medical tech firm may have you building firmware for their products, or an insurance company may have you building data models to analyse trends in healthcare costs.
Careers in health informatics often combine ideas and expertise from information science, computer science, and healthcare. Professionals must develop an in-depth understanding of the technological infrastructure that supports healthcare in order to advance in this line of work. They must also understand the relationship between healthcare providers, government agencies, and certification bodies, and how technology can help bridge the gap between all three.
The ability to adapt quickly and change direction is highly valued in the sector, given how fast healthcare needs evolve. There is no single path for career progression, and you have options to specialise in specific areas such as software development, technical sales, or business leadership as you advance.
Trends and developments
The need to develop apps and easy-to-use patient-centric technology has increased. Historically, health informatics typically focused on desktop applications for medical and industry specialists. However, with the proliferation of more “smart” home medical devices, IoT devices tracking health metrics, and increased demand for telemedicine, health data now needs to be more easily accessible by patients and end-users. This has translated to a rush for mobile app development expertise in this line of work.
There is also increased demand for experience in new technologies such as machine learning and AI. The ongoing introduction of these technologies into healthcare is likely to be a game changer, and will have a significant effect on how patient care is planned and delivered in the future.
Lastly, this industry also has an entire specialised ecosystem of specialised suppliers who integrate with larger organisations or healthcare providers. For instance, there are businesses who develop data analytics platforms specifically for integration with medical devices, or companies who supply CRM software and telemedicine platforms for clinics and hospitals. Opportunities in this line of work may come from places that you least expect!
Pros and cons
Stable career prospects
Healthcare is an evergreen recession-proof industry, and health informatics graduates can find stable work across a wide variety of healthcare and healthcare-adjacent employers.
Long working hours
Due to the fast pace and rapid innovation of this industry, work in this field can be quite demanding, and working hours often go beyond the usual 9-to-5.
- Analytical skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Attention to detail
- Time and stress management skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Keeping up with the latest industry trends