How to get started in health informatics

Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
February, 2023

If you're interested in using big data to improve patient care and processes then a career in this fast-growing area of healthcare could be for you

Health informatics is the science of how we collect, analyse and use information to improve health. It combines elements of the healthcare and information technology sectors.

What is health informatics?

Sometimes the term is used quite generally to refer to any IT systems in the health service but it's all about using digital information to ensure better patient care. This includes providing doctors with ready access to digital patient records, giving patients information about staying healthy and supplying managers with data to improve services.

As one of the fastest growing areas in health it's a career area worth considering if you have interests in healthcare and using data to improve processes - especially as healthcare professionals now have access to more data than ever before.

How do I get a job in health informatics?

From entry-level roles in administrative functions, to those requiring postgraduate qualifications there's a range of jobs in health informatics. It's also possible to move into this field from other healthcare roles, or from IT jobs.

The NHS splits health informatics roles into seven employment areas:

  • Clinical informatics - collecting and analysing data, and communicating it to health professionals who can put it to use to improve patient care.
  • Education and training - ensuring that healthcare staff are trained to use the latest technologies.
  • Health records and training administration - collating, storing and retrieving healthcare records that are used to diagnose and treat patients.
  • Information and communication technology - maintaining and developing IT infrastructure.
  • Information management staff - analysing, interpreting and presenting health data to help plan and deliver patient care.
  • Library, knowledge and information services - ensuring that staff, patients and the public have access to the right information when they need it.
  • Project and programme management - managing major projects to implement new digital systems that put informatics at the forefront of healthcare.

Read more about the job roles on offer in health informatics at Health Careers - Roles in health informatics. Alternatively, you can see what jobs are available by using the search term 'informatics' on NHS jobs, which will also give you an idea of the qualifications required for specific roles.

Depending on the job you're interested in, it's possible to get into health informatics as a graduate, or as a current healthcare or IT professional. You may want to research relevant job profiles, such as:

What does a Masters in health informatics involve?

There are relatively few people with recognised health informatics qualifications meaning those with a postgraduate degree will have the competitive edge.

Lasting one year if studied full time and between two and five years part time there are a number of MSc courses in health informatics available. Some examples include:

To be eligible you will need a relevant degree in a subject such as computer science, health services research, biological sciences or nursing. If you don't have one of these subjects, then relevant professional experience is also considered.

Specific modules will differ with each course, but you can expect to study topics such as using secondary health data, knowledge management in healthcare, health informatics research and finally a dissertation.

Graduates from these courses go on to senior informatician jobs in the NHS and private sector. These include roles such as project managers, senior analysts and specialised software development.

Find out more

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