Health Informatics Profession

Health Informatics (HI) is a discipline that is rapidly gaining prominence as countries around the world seek to leverage digital technologies to enable care provision and build knowledge at individual and population levels. There are a variety of definitions, but all are based on principles of connecting, accessing and assessing health information for the improvement of health systems.“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

The term Health Informatics is a broad term referring to a wide scope of digital information technologies in healthcare – it includes all of the above terms and more. It is often used interchangeably (sometimes erroneously) with such terms depending on context and focus.

Health Informatics at the 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.

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.

On the other hand, Health Information Management is most often studied in a diploma-level program offered by a community college and is often a requirement for individuals who work with clinical health records or in decision support areas. There is a certification process for Health Information Management Programs, administered by the Canadian Health Information Management Association.

The MHI Program is one of Canada’s only professional graduate-level programs that focuses on developing skilled professionals to meet the rising healthcare demand for informatics leaders.

eHealth, including electronic health records, clinical and consumer information technologies, and management of patient data, are major priorities at provincial and federal levels. Billions of dollars are being invested through Canada Health Infoway and eHealth Ontario, for example, to develop, implement and maintain eHealth solutions across health systems.

Our graduates are highly sought after and widely employed in both the public and private sectors – taking on positions such as specialists, analysts, managers, directors and in other leadership roles in areas such as clinical informatics, implementation and project management, business intelligence and analytics and product management.

Master of Health Informatics Program

Master of Health Informatics regular (MHI) and executive (EMHI) streams are two options leading to an identical degree.

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 understanding of coding and programming is beneficial, however, the emphasis for admission is on having an understanding of how information technology systems work. Experience in managing IT projects, adopting information technologies in healthcare settings, or working on system implementation and change management is valued.

Preference is given to candidates with relevant professional experience in healthcare and information technology. Experience that demonstrates a balance of understanding of both fields is ideal. Experience from degrees, certificates, employment and volunteer settings is all considered during the application process. Each applicant is carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about the applicability of your experience and/or suitability for the program, we would be happy to speak with you.

Required background includes:

  • 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.

We take the average grades of your last 5 full-course or 10 half-course equivalents.

We require two references. It is acceptable to provide an academic and non-academic reference. We suggest you select your references based on who will give you the most positive review and is at the most senior level. Please ensure that your referees are comfortable in recommending you.

The MHI regular stream program is a two-year program condensed into a 16-month time frame. It is a rigorous program and to be successful, you will need to commit to full-time studies to meet the academic demands. It is recommended that you speak to your employer about the possibility of a study sabbatical. Some students have managed to accommodate part-time work later in their program, but it is recommended that this option be considered only after discussions with the MHI Program Director, Karim Keshavjee.

EMHI students are often working in full-time positions.

The practicum is the applied learning component of the regular stream MHI program. From May to August, every MHI student participates in a full-time (600 hour/ 37.5 hours per week) professional practicum placement. 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 a stipend. It is important for students to plan finances without depending on practicum payment.

Professional programs are not eligible for most research-based awards, and students in these programs are not included in the funded cohort. MHI is an OSAP eligible program. You may wish to visit the School of Graduate Studies website for financial aid. http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/currentstudents/Pages/Scholarships-and-Awards.aspx

We typically only take a small number of international students. International applicants that have been accepted in the past have been highly competitive (high grades, excellent reference letters, clear and relevant letter of intent and applicable work experience).

Health informatics at IHPME is also offered as a concentration within the Health Systems Research (HSR) program.  Students have progressed to PhD after MHI, however, there is a necessary migration path from the professional (terminal degree) into the research-based degrees. Contact the HSR, Health Informatics Emphasis Lead, for more information.

For questions related to the application and admissions process, including eligibility, contact Graduate Assistant, Zoe Downie-Ross.

For questions related to MHI as a fit for your career direction, contact Program Director, Karim Keshavjee

Finance Your Degree

At IHPME, we offer a variety of financial supports to help you succeed in our graduate programs.

Learn More About IHPME’s Master of Health Informatics (MHI)

MHI Program Director

Karim Keshavjee
Email Address: karim.keshavjee@​utoronto.ca

Graduate Administrator

Zoe Downie-Ross
Phone Number: (416) 946-3486
Email Address: ihpme.grad.admin@​utoronto.ca

Graduate Admissions

Christina Lopez
Email Address: ihpme.admissions@​utoronto.ca

Graduate Assistant

Nadia Ismail
Phone Number: (416) 946-4100
Email Address: ihpme.grad.assist@​utoronto.ca

MHI Program Assistant

Aileen O’Dowd
Email Address: ihpme.mhi.program@​utoronto.ca

Graduate Placements

Christina Lopez
Phone Number: (416) 978-1108
Email Address: ihpme.placements@​utoronto.ca