Master’s in Health Informatics vs. Health Information Management

Collecting, managing and analyzing data has become a vital aspect of managing public health. Health information is any data relative to an individual’s medical history, such as symptoms, diagnoses, procedures and outcomes, lab results, X-rays, clinical information and provider notes. Organized health information can help health care professionals understand an individual’s health history or a given population’s health care outcomes.

If you’re interested in this work and ready to explore related degree programs, it’s helpful to understand the difference between health informatics vs. health information management. Depending on your career aspirations, one of these may be a better direction for you. This article examines the differences between health informatics and health information management, while exploring the role each plays in health care.

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Health Informatics vs. Health Information Management: Definition Comparison

While health informatics and health information management sound similar, they are distinctly different disciplines. Each field has unique entry requirements and duties.

Health informatics operates at the intersection of health care and information technology. In this field, professionals design, develop and manage the technology infrastructure to retrieve, store and distribute data related to health care.

Health information management is focused on managing data within the infrastructure—such as patient health records—to ensure completeness, accuracy and privacy. Think of it as a combination of business, health care and information technology.

Curriculum Comparison of Master’s in Health Informatics vs. Health Information Management

Master’s in health informatics (MHI) and master’s in health information management (MHIM) programs may have some coursework overlap and both generally take 12-24 months to complete. Admission requirements are similar to other master’s degrees, including a bachelor’s degree, a minimum GPA requirement and related coursework and/or experience.

However, the informatics curriculum will be more technology-oriented, while the information management curriculum will include more business courses. Electives allow you to fine-tune the program to your career interests and goals. Additionally, you may consider pursuing an online masters in health informatics or online MHIM program if you need greater schedule flexibility.

The chart below breaks down the typical master’s degree curriculums of health informatics vs. health information management with some courses as examples:

Program Differences Health Informatics Health Information Management
Fundamental Courses
  • Fundamentals of Informatics
  • Informatics for Health Care Professionals
  • Health Data Content Structure and Standards
  • Contemporary Leadership Principles
Electives
  • Data Wrangling and Exploratory Analysis
  • Business of Health Care
  • Medical Informatics and Decision Management
  • Population and Community Health Analytics
  • Research Analytics and Predictive Analytics
  • Informatics for Clinical Research
  • Public Health for Health Care Administrators
  • IT Systems Project Management
  • Project Management of Health Information Systems
  • Organizational Development and Management for Health Information
Specializations
  • Clinical Informatics
  • Health Technology
  • Public Health informatics
  • Coding and Revenue Cycle Management
  • Information Governance
  • Health Administration

Responsibilities, Careers and Salaries

Both health informatics and health information management offer excellent career options for those passionate about technology and health care. The transition from paper to electronic health records will lead to more jobs in careers related to health informatics and health information management—such as medical records and health information technicians and medical and health services managers.

According to the BLS, employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase 11% from 2018 to 2028. The median annual pay of these health information professionals was $40,350 in 2018. The BLS reports the job outlook for medical and health services managers is also bright; employment is expected to increase 18% in the same period. The median annual wage of medical and health services managers was $100,980 in 2019. 

The table below provides additional insight into health informatics vs. health information management careers.

Career Differences Health Informatics Health Information Management
Responsibilities Collect, store and retrieve health care data Organize, manage and integrate electronic health records
Common Job Titles
  • Health information technician
  • Clinical data manager
  • Medical records analyst
  • Data quality manager
  • Quality improvement analyst
  • Medical coding specialist
Work Settings
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices
  • Administrative support
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Technical services
  • Hospitals
  • Physician offices
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Government
  • Outpatient care settings

Which Master’s Degree is Right for You?

The health care industry has a fast-growing need for people with specialized knowledge in data management, analysis and decision-making. While each degree can prepare you for a career in this evolving field, let’s examine why you may choose to pursue health informatics vs. health information management.

A master’s in health informatics is ideal for someone interested in applying their love for technology in the health care setting. The program teaches students about technology applications, analytics and applied statistics as they apply to improving health care outcomes. As the industry moves away from paper health records, informatics professionals are positioned to play a key role in the organization of electronic health records.

A master’s in health information management is ideal for someone interested in the power of data to guide and improve health care decision-making. This degree program helps individuals understand health analytics and informatics to make business and clinical decisions. As a health information manager, you could be involved in coordinating activities of multiple health care departments or ensuring medical data is accurate and secure.

When considering a health informatics vs. health information management career path, know that there’s potential down both roads. Each can present you with a number of engaging career possibilities that combine technology and health care.

Information last updated July 2020

Sponsored

 Tufts University

Earn your Master of Health Informatics & Analytics in as few as 20 months
GRE not required • 36 credits • Live classes