Skip to Main Content

3 Emerging Trends in Health Informatics

In recent years, information technology (IT) has transformed the way healthcare is managed and delivered. This new field is commonly referred to as health informatics. Beyond improving outcomes, it’s also given those interested in merging healthcare and technology a new career path. 

As with any emerging discipline, health informatics is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the healthcare industry. It’s critical to stay on top of these trends if you are pursuing or interested in a Master of Health Informatics degree to advance your career. 

What is Health Informatics? 

Health informatics is a hybrid between IT and healthcare. Using technology typically reserved for other industries, workers analyze and organize health records with the goal to improve outcomes. 

This involves:

  • Researching and gathering information
  • Analyzing existing systems
  • Implementing solutions to address problems within healthcare 

Originally, health informatics formed when manual record-keeping became more and more inefficient. The first adoption of technology was the electronic health record (EHR) systems. These systems helped providers improve efficiency, coordination, and data sharing. Then, in 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was enacted to promote and expand the adoption of health information technology.

As more healthcare providers continue to adopt health informatics, the need for skilled employees continues to rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the number of jobs in health informatics is expected to increase 17% between 2021 and 2031. 

Current Trends in Health Informatics 

During this time, professionals need to be aware of the trends shaping the current landscape, as well as look ahead to the future. 

Here are three emerging concepts in the health informatics field to know. 

1. Health Data Interoperability

A major issue with many of the EHR systems adopted was the lack of effective communication between them. Interoperability solves this problem by giving a system or device the ability to exchange, access, and integrate information seamlessly within one organization and beyond organizational, regional, and national boundaries. 

With interoperability, it’s critical to ensure that sensitive data (patient information, health records, etc.) are protected. This is why in 2020, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a finalized Interoperability and Patient Access Rule. The goal is to improve care coordination and patient outcomes, as well as reduce costs. 

2. Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has impacted nearly every industry—health informatics included. It’s transforming healthcare by replacing repetitive manual processes. However, given the nature of the industry, it makes AI operations more intricate. Accuracy is critical.

With AI, patient data can be analyzed and sorted to simplify how providers look at data. This can lead to care becoming more accessible to more people. Researchers at Stanford University used AI to increase the number of patients who received palliative care, which is given when someone has a serious, often life-threatening illness. Too often doctors overestimate the lifespan of an ill patient and as a result, palliative care is not recommended in time. Researchers estimate 1 to 1.8 million patients who need palliative care do not receive it for this reason. 

3. Data Analytics 

In general, across the healthcare field,  there’s been a shift from “treat and rehabilitate” to promoting overall well-being with person-centered care with a “prevention before cure” mindset. Health informatics, especially data analytics, plays a major role in this. Tools and programs capable of analyzing patient information can help pinpoint potential issues and create a plan for optimal care. However, this requires skills and knowledge involving health informatics, data science, and computational modeling.  

Mastering Health Informatics Skills for the Future

The evolution of technology is unavoidable. While the healthcare industry might have been slow to adopt IT solutions, they’re now being pursued  at a rapid rate. Professionals need to stay ahead of the curve by mastering the necessary skills. In doing so, health informatics professionals will be able to elevate their careers, play a major role in the changing industry, and help improve care models for all.

Learn more about Wake Forest University’s Master of Health Informatics online degree today.