Health Informatics Profession
“Health informatics is the interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption and application of information technology (IT) – based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management and planning. “
As defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan 7 2014 www.himss.org/health-informatics-defined
“Health Informatics is a discipline that deals with the collection, storage, retrieval, communication and optimal use of health related data, information and knowledge. It recognizes the role of citizens in their own health care as well as the information handling roles of the healthcare professionals, and is now considered a critically essential and pervasive element in sustainable health care delivery. There is a recognized need for the advancement and teaching of knowledge about the application of information and communication technologies to healthcare – the place where health, information and computer sciences, psychology, epidemiology and engineering intersect.”As defined by the Health Informatics Society of Australia, 1994; UK Health Informatics Society, 2007.
Certificates and diplomas in Health Informatics are increasingly emerging across Canada and internationally. These programs are not generally based in computer-programming or data analytics, though most incorporate learning from these fields.
Health Informatics at University of Toronto is a Master’s degree-level professional program established in 2008 for individuals pursuing leadership positions in health and information systems. This program emphasizes knowledge and skills in strategy and policy development; informing high level decision making; system analysis, assessment, and solution architecture; project management; and the development, implementation and management of technological applications and change across the health and health care delivery system.
The COACH: Human Resources Outlook 2014-2019 report identifies a national shortage of skilled professionals to lead and manage this change.
Our graduates are highly sought after and widely employed in most of the areas on the COACH and CHIMA Career Matrices (seen below). Graduates almost universally see advancement in roles and compensation in comparison to their status on program entry. The jobs secured on graduation vary by individual and depend, in part, on background experience gained before program entry.
Our graduates are in positions as specialists, analysts, managers, directors and in other leadership roles to areas such as clinical informatics, implementation and project management, business intelligence and analytics and product management.
To learn more about the progression of careers in health informatics:
- Canada’s Health Informatics Association (COACH) Career Matrix
- Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) Career Matrix
More information on jobs in health informatics may be found through sites such as the following:
Master of Health Informatics Program
Master of Health Informatics regular (MHI) and executive (EMHI) streams are two options leading to an identical degree.
|Background of entry to mid-level careers||Background of mid to senior -level careers in field|
|Seeking to transform career||Seeking to add credential to progress in career|
|16 months||22 months|
|Experiential learning through practicum placement in healthcare setting.||Experiential learning through professional project developed and delivered in employer setting.|
|Weekly classes||Modular format every 3-4 weeks, some weekly classes|
|Students may work part-time||Full-time employment required|
Health Informatics is an emerging discipline and there is no official accreditation or certification body at this time. However, all university graduate programs must be reviewed and approved by the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies (OCGS), the body which governs university graduate programs for the Ontario Government.
- An appropriate four year undergraduate degree (e.g., Health Sciences or Social Sciences specialty, Regulated Health Professions in Ontario, Computer Science or Information Science Specialty) or its equivalent, from a recognized university.
- B+ average in the last academic year is required.
- Demonstrated English language proficiency.
By the time students engage in the practicum (or EMHI project), they have completed ten core half-courses, providing a firm grounding in current health informatics components and issues. All are half-credit courses (0.5 FCE) unless otherwise indicated.
All current timetables (subject to change) are located at: ihpme.utoronto.ca/academics/pp/mhi/handbook/timetables
MHI: The MHI Program requires that each student take 10 full credits where each one term course counts as one-half credit (except for MHI2005Y: Practicum, which is equal to two credits). It will take MHI students 16 months to complete the program and EMHI students 22 months. The periods are broken into consecutive Sessions of study, each one more or less coincidental with the traditional academic term, and each containing 2.5 Full Credit Equivalents (FCE).
The MHI executive stream students are required to be employed in full-time positions on entry to the program. Employment should be reasonably foreseeable as sustaining through the 22 months of the program.
The practicum provides learners with the opportunity to build on MHI course learning and to employ related problem-solving skills. By the start of practicum, students will have completed more than 250 hours of in-class graduate instruction, in addition to workshops and projects.
Preceptor organizations hosting practicum students are not required to pay stipends, however most placements are paid. Paid students are subject to the policies and processes of their host organizations. While every effort is made to secure payment, occasionally placements with high learning value are offered without stipend. It is important for students to plan finances without depending on practicum payment.
Contact Emily Seto, Health Informatics Research Lead, for more information.
For questions related to MHI as a fit for your career direction, contact Program Director, Julia Zarb