As the healthcare industry continues to adopt more innovative technology in day-to-day operations, the oversight and harnessing of data has become more demanding and complex.
Most major medical operations now have a chief informatics officer – sometimes referred to as a chief medical informatics officer – tasked with management of the technology platform that supports a number of operations.
Those include developing and maintaining electronic healthcare records for patients and working to improve communications among health information exchange systems. The latter allows medical personnel to access real-time information about patients across various systems.
While a complicated and demanding position, a chief informatics officer works on the cutting edge of healthcare, guiding a mature business model into an era where technology can improve patient care and make medical operations more efficient.
The chief informatics officer helps guide the executive team through the steps needed to integrate data technology into a medical operation, as well as properly maintaining and managing the systems already in place.
That places a chief informatics officer in charge of proposing budgets for technology projects and programs, as well as overseeing computer specialists and the information technology team.
In the bigger picture, they guide the direction of a hospital or other medical operation in the area of technology. This can include many duties, including:
- Developing a customer service platform to serve the entire organization
- Developing a network infrastructure that allows for connectivity throughout the organization, as well as remote access
- Keeping updated on the latest technology innovations and make recommendations to the executive team on needed hardware, software and network updates or changes
- Overseeing contracts with vendors who provide IT-related services
- Guiding the goal setting and strategy of the IT department
Health Informatics Education and Training
In some cases, a chief informatics officer will be a medical professional – including doctors and nurses – who transition to the technology side of the operation.
Others come to the job with a background in IT and develop knowledge and skills in healthcare through years of working in informatics. In this case, a bachelor’s degree in a technology- or health-related field is recommended.
Most employers prefer a chief informatics officer who has earned a related master’s degree, at minimum.
In addition to formal education, experience in the healthcare industry is a must, along with detailed knowledge of how the industry operates and the function of IT in healthcare.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not yet track job growth and salary information specifically for chief informatics officers. However, other career sites show that related jobs are both in demand and well-compensated.
As an executive position, salaries for chief informatics officers often fall into the six-figure range. Payscale, an online publication dedicated to measuring productivity and value, reports an average salary for the related field of chief information officer as $151,000, with those at the top end of the scale making as much as $230,000.
In terms of job growth, the BLS reports that all jobs related to medical records and healthcare information will increase by 15 percent between 2014 and 2024, faster than the national average of all jobs (about 7 percent).