Health Informatics in Alabama
Health Care Informatics is the field at the intersection of medicine and computer technology. A relatively new field, health informatics, or medical informatics, covers all aspects of the acquisition and management of both medical and administrative data. At the basic level, technicians acquire, record, and organize medical data. More advanced professionals have greater responsibilities, such as developing data-management algorithms and maintaining hospital databases. The field also prepares workers for positions in legal counsel, government agency, mental health facility, and educational settings, among others.
Alabama Health Informatics Links
Health Informatics Training in Alabama
Opportunities for healthcare informatics jobs in Alabama are available at each level of post-secondary education. Those earning an Associate’s degree may work as Medical Records Technicians, while those earning BS degrees in Health Information Management work as Research Support Specialists or Medical Informatics Analysts. It is crucial that a student attend a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), the governing body in the field. Upon completion of an Associate’s degree from a CAHIIM-approved program, students must pass an examination to become Registered Health Information Technicians, or RHIT. Upon completion of a Bachelor’s degree from a CAHIIM-approved program, students must pass another examination for certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Though not required to work in the field, a degree from a CAHIIM-approved program provides better career opportunities and job outlook. Those accredited by the CAHIIM as Registered Health Information Administrators are also members of the American Health Information Management Association, or AHIMA. AHIMA offers benefits through membership in their state chapter, including job listings and networking abilities. See the Alabama website for more information, http://www.aahim.org/.
A Master of Science in Health Informatics is the terminal degree in the field, and those holding a MS degree are in the top pay bracket as Health Informatics Managers, or as Health Informatics Management Directors.
The University of Alabama—Birmingham offers a BS degree in Health Information Management as preparation for a Master of Science in Health Informatics, or MSHI, degree program. This is the only program in Alabama accredited by CAHIIM. Other programs are offered at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels online by the University of Phoenix, Walden University Online, Capella University Online, and Northeastern University. Coursework covers a wide range of topics, such as the analysis of healthcare information systems, databases and data modeling, organizational leadership, and information resources management. At the master’s level, students must also understand medical ethics and decision-making. Degree programs require either an internship in the field or independent research project.
Health Informatics Salary – Alabama
Those holding an Associate’s degree work as Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. In Alabama, the average annual salary for this position is $28,800 . Those with experience in the field earn up to $33,300. A person with a MS degree in Health Informatics is qualified for positions of a great variety of titles, such as a Clinical Informaticist, or Medical Records Director. Some of the largest employers of Health Informatics specialists include the Huntsville Hospital, the Trinity Medical Center, the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, and the Dekalb Regional Medical Center. Entry-level wages for Medical and Health Services Managers begin at $25.20 per hour ($52,400 annually), with the average employee earning $40.37 per hour, or $83,900 a year. Experienced professionals earn up to $62.38 per hour, or about $129,400 annually.
*Salary statistics are taken from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, Labor Market Information Division in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.