Do Health Informatics work with Patients?

People who want careers in healthcare technology may wonder how much health informatics work with patients. Health care, like many other professions today, is being transformed by technology. Nurses no longer have to track up and down the halls of medical facilities doing routine vitals checks. Machines perform that chore and alert the nurse if there is a problem. Doctors input notes into computers these days instead of making cumbersome and illegible handwritten observations. Technology has changed everything from patient care to record-keeping and equipment monitoring. The professionals who manage this immense field of digital information are called healthcare informatics.

What is a Health Care Informatic?

The website Himss.Org defines informatics as “registered nurses who are formally prepared at the graduate level in informatics or a related field.” These professionals are clinical nurses who have experience in patient care. As a matter of fact, 87 percent of respondents to a recent survey about health informatics were formerly critical care or surgical nurses. That background in one-to-one care gives informatics an insight into the workload medical professionals face as well as the nuts-and-bolts of medical facilities. Informatics serve in many positions in health care. Some of these are:
• Administration and Leadership
• Analysis of Data
• Compliance ( making sure facilities are in compliance with regulatory codes)
• Consultation ( brought in to a facility to update files and install new systems)
• Coordination
• Research.
Many more options exist, and they are expanding. The informatics involved with patient records are responsible for making them more accurate and less redundant. Healthcare systems are becoming comprehensive patient profiles that can be accessed by pharmacists, nurses, doctors and patients themselves to keep track of their health care. The records must be complete, up-to-date and understandable. Keeping them that way is the job of informatics.

How Do Informatics Differ From Regular Nurses

Although all nurses are becoming more competent in computer technologies and the instrumentation that they power, they are not prepared to manage the data that is put into the system. Nurses, beginning at the bachelor, or RN, level take classes in technology in their degree programs. While some informatics hold bachelor’s degrees, most are trained at the graduate level with certification or specializations in informatics. Registered nurses care for patients personally; nursing informatics care for many patients by managing the data about their conditions and treatments, their allergies and their insurance benefits as well as other information, in one mega-system. That system is so inclusive that it has “fingers” into pharmaceuticals, wellness programs and other health-related industries as well as medical facilities. It is the job of informatics to guard patient privacy and system security while facilitating that vast flow of information.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics says there is a demand for informatics specialists. The most sought-after jobs are management-level, but all informatics positions are well-paid and job security is high. Those seeking personal contact with patients may not experience job satisfaction as an informatics, but health informatics still help patients by keeping their data accurate.  A health informatic may not work one-on-one with a patient, but does impact patients by making the healthcare experience better.