Need a job? Consider healthcare informatics field

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Online job postings for healthcare informatics show an unprecedented demand for the trade, outpacing other healthcare occupations.

Job postings for healthcare informatics increased 36 percent from 2007 to 2011, compared with a 9 percent growth in all healthcare postings and 6 percent increase in all U.S. jobs, according to a report prepared for Credentials that Work, an initiative that promotes colleges’ use of real-time labor information to inform program offerings.

Postings stayed flat for registered nurses (RNs), the largest healthcare occupation, the report continued.

The report, “A Growing Jobs Sector: Health Informatics,” was prepared by Burning Glass, a labor market analytics firm, for Jobs for the Future (JFF), a nonprofit organization focused on aligning education for struggling populations with high-demand careers.

“Health informatics is a category that has become increasingly integrated into the management of clinical care,” the Boston-based nonprofit reported. The growth in positions like supervisor and manager, auditor and compliance review staff, and clinical documentation and improvement specialists are interesting to examine, they added. “At the same time, these positions have become more skilled, with entry-level jobs upgraded, lower-skilled positions shrinking and greater clinical knowledge required for higher-level jobs.”  

Policy and payment method reforms are fueling this trend, according to the report, such as the HIPAA Privacy Rule spawning new types of medical records positions and the HITECH Act requiring the switch to an EHR.

The total number of healthcare informatics job postings increased by close to 14,000 from 2007 to 2011. The report noted a sharp decline in demand for medical record clerks, who went from 13 percent of health informatics jobs in 2007 to 5 percent in 2011. Medical coder positions increased significantly in absolute terms (12,411 vs. 16,276) while holding relatively steady as a percentage of health informatics jobs (33 percent vs. 32 percent).

Clinically related jobs such as clinical documentation specialist and clinical improvement analyst were the fastest growing segment, constituting 16 percent of health informatics jobs, up from 9 percent in 2007. “The growing importance of clinically related health informatics positions is also reflected in the fastest-growing job titles between 2007 and 2011, with six of the nine titles related to clinical documentation and analysis,” the report noted.

“Health informatics is an emerging opportunity, both for individuals hoping to improve their career prospects and for educational institutions seeking to offer them the training and credentials they need to succeed,” the report concluded. “The career-ladder aspect of health informatics lends itself to mini-certifications information processing for clinicians and to courses in clinical and health finance issues for IT workers.”