Using data to improve patient care is a health industry-wide endeavor. Several professions contribute to the advancement of health care, whether the role is in the hospital, a laboratory, or in front of a computer. Two pertinent areas in medical data are health information management and health informatics. While the two occupations might seem similar, each possesses its own scope that sets it apart.

One question often asked is, “What is the difference between health information and health informatics?” This comprehensive guide will explain the details for education, skills, and experience to pursue health information management and careers in health informatics, respectively.

What is Health Information Management?

Health information management (HIM) positions handle the daily organization and storage of patient records, medical histories, and lab results in both private and public sectors. According to Indeed, health information management professionals are driven to deliver exceptional patient care through efficient and ethical practices for data storage.

What Is Health Informatics?

In broad terms, health informatics is a computer analytics specialization. Coursera describes health informatics professionals as users of data and artificial intelligence (AI) to develop innovations in the health care industry. They work across systems to store information to optimize and automate patient care.

It is important to note that health informatics workers fall under the classification of computer systems analysts. For the purpose of discussing this position at length, this guide will cover the specialist occupation. For more information on general computer systems analyst positions, visit the O*Net Online database.

What Is the Difference Between Health Information Management vs. Health Informatics?

While health informatics specialists create concepts for health care professionals to implement, their work depends on program development more than administrative duties.

Health informatics positions are adept at completing tasks including:

  • Channeling practice information between medical professionals and systems specialists
  • Develop, test, report, and distribute new technologies 
  • Use knowledge of computer sciences, nursing, and relevant theories to research and instruct, in conjunction with other like-minded informatics specialists
  • Study and identify improvements in systems for medical professionals
  • Utilize informatics science to design or administer information technology systems to apply solutions for administrative problems

On the other hand, health information management is a field position, and managers work directly with patients and their immediate staff to oversee the storage and distribution of related materials. Health information management workers are expected to perform the following work functions:

  • Supervise work activities of staff handling nursing, technical, clerical, medical, service, and maintenance jobs
  • Create and handle digital records for information and activities to produce subsequent reports
  • Distribute programs to wellness facilities and coordinate teaching for staff branches
  • Stay privy to medical advancements, treatment procedures, diagnostic equipment, insurance and financing changes, and government regulations
  • Perform and distribute operations systems for budgets, authorizations, and reporting coordination

Similarities Between Health Information Management and Informatics

Positions in both industry specialties experience overlap in qualifications surrounding necessary skills. Both fields rely on storing patient data and staying current to industry tools and systems that advance programs health care workers use daily, and therefore have interchangeable expectations.

Some responsibilities that both health information management and health informatics specialists might require include:

  • Communication: Giving important information to peers, supervisors, coworkers, or subordinates across physical and digital platforms
  • Computer work: Creating and implementing programs, using industry-specific hardware and software, inputting data, storing information
  • Compliance standard evaluation: Using relevant details to dictate whether processes follow the relative laws and regulations
  • Maintaining and establishing interpersonal relationships: Create productive and efficient workplace relationships with employees and constituents
  • Analyzing information and data: Digesting the facts and origins of information and delegating it for use

What Degree Do You Need for Health Information Management and Health Informatics?

Degree requirements can vary based on job roles. A position in any computer systems analysis field typically requires a bachelor’s degree, as a base for specialization in health care systems. Since health informatics requires an increased knowledge of the health care industry, other roles can require a master’s degree and additional specialized classes. Finishing courses or other continuous education classes in a desired industry can benefit professionals in the application process.

Health information management is based on several factors, and degree requirements can vary. While a bachelor’s degree is most common, often in fields like health care administration or business, any level above an associate degree is eligible for consideration in select roles.

The BLS handbook also recommends additional licensure for those looking at a career in health information management, specifically with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). This organization offers a selection of certification programs and delivers up-to-date information on industry trends and licensure.

What Work Experience Do Health Information Management and Health Informatics Require?

Health information management workers may require field experience in a related occupation. The BLS handbook notes that administrative or clinical experience is a common stepping stone for this management branch. For informatics, any role in the prospective specialist’s industry is highly suggested. Therefore, familiarity with hospital systems and other medical networks is favorable.

For more information on obtaining a career in health informatics, please visit the Department of Labor site here.

Potential Careers for Health Information Managers and Health Informatics Experts

Health informatics can translate into a variety of career paths that focus on widespread industries. Potential careers can include:

  • Clinical Data Managers
  • Clinical Research Coordinators
  • Clinical Informatics Specialists
  • Nursing Informatics Officer

For health information management, the subsets of careers that handle data organization and can include:

  • Medical Records Director
  • Health Information Management Director (HIM) Director
  • Healthcare System Director
  • Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars

For more information on health information management career paths, consult O*Net Online.

Overview of Health Information Management vs. Health Informatics

The pursuit of health information management and health informatics requires the proper background, specialized skills, and a passion for innovation in medical data optimization. Regardless of the field, pursuing a degree and related experience can result in harboring the correct skill sets to thrive in these constantly changing fields.

Search UAGC

Let us help.

Fill out this form to talk with an advisor.

Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.

Are you a member of the military?

We are currently not accepting new enrollments in the state of North Carolina.