Healthcare organizations today are swamped with information, and there’s more coming at them every second.
According to Berkshire Hathaway, the healthcare datasphere is projected to grow at a faster pace than is expected for any other industry or sector, swelling to a capacity that will eclipse such data-intensive industries as streaming media services by 2025.
Driven by mandatory adoption of electronic healthcare records (EHR) as well as the digitization of medical imaging and advanced diagnostic procedures like DNA sequencing that generate large volumes of raw data, healthcare providers are managing a growing ocean of information, all of which needs to be stored and analyzed.
Taking advantage of the potential benefits of data-driven decision making is a key goal for the healthcare industry. But it can only happen if providers have a grasp of how to manage and extract actionable information from the massive troves of information being created every day.
For administrators and other healthcare professionals, getting a handle on the fundamentals they need to do that is as easy as taking an online short course in healthcare informatics.
Why Healthcare Professionals Need to Understand What the Data Has to Say
It’s a well-established fact that health information technology increases efficiency and reduces medical errors when it’s properly implemented. For nearly a decade now, EHRs have consistently been empirically linked to improved adherence to clinical best practices and faster, more efficient treatment for patients.
The benefits extend beyond patient care as well. Regulatory compliance and organizational cost benefits also accrue to organizations as they adopt EHRs.
But healthcare information technology is a highly specialized field with significant and unique regulatory, ethical, and technological considerations.
A short course covering healthcare informatics can set up both healthcare administrators and technology professionals to deal with the coming demands for more integration between healthcare and IT, and for the innovations that marriage is expected to lead to.
What to Look for in an Online Short Course on Healthcare Informatics
A short course typically involves only around a month of time overall, with about ten hours of class time per week, so there is a limited window for looking into the technical details of health informatics. You should instead look for a program that offers you a high-level view of the possibilities and the state of the art in the field, and that means finding a course offered by a university that has experience, expertise, and prestige. The good news is that universities fitting this description are often the ones offering these programs.
Frequently, you’ll find that such schools have entered into partnerships with major online course providers like edX, Coursera, or GetSmarter to deliver the classes. Other colleges offer the programs directly, in both traditional and online formats.
The school behind the course may be one of the most important factors in your selection. The instructors with the most experience and the curricula offering the greatest relevance are likely to come from major universities that have both extensive medical schools and affiliated teaching hospitals, as well as groundbreaking and innovative information technology departments.
Drawing on diverse studies in genomic research, translational medicine, and information processing, these programs will offer the broadest perspective and most actionable insights from the cutting edge of health informatics.
What to Expect From a Short Course on Healthcare Informatics
With only around 40 hours of course content that has to cover a lot of territory in a field that changes almost monthly, a short course can’t squeeze in every possible topic of interest for every clinician or administrator. You can, however, find courses in healthcare informatics that focus in on a particular aspect, such as implementing EHRs, or implementing informatics for decision support, as the Johns Hopkins Outcomes and Interventions of Health Informatics course does.
For most healthcare organization leaders and other professionals, courses that offer a broad overview of the technologies, challenges, principles, and promises of the field make the most sense.
Subjects covered in these broader courses would include:
- EHR design, deployment, and use
- The impact of Big Data in diagnostics and clinical systems, including bioinformatics
- Using data-driven decision-making in healthcare diagnosis and treatments
- Ethics, privacy, and security concerns in healthcare informatics
Through these subject modules, you will learn the vocabulary and concepts necessary to have conversations about informatics with other providers, technicians, administrators, and even patients and their families. And you will gain the confidence in using informatics-driven systems for both administrative and diagnostic purposes in your day-to-day practice.
An Online Short Course in Healthcare Informatics is the Obvious Choice
Although you can find short courses in healthcare informatics that are organized and conducted as traditional on-campus classes, you’ll find the flexibility of online classes is absolutely critical for busy professionals.
With asynchronous class delivery, you can review materials, watch lectures, or correspond with classmates and instructors at any time of the day or night, from any location… just the thing for professionals working in a field where there are always more patients and never enough time.
Increasingly, online learning platforms are beginning to distribute their own apps for keeping track of class assignments and accessing course content, which takes the learning process completely mobile. With just a phone or tablet, you can review course material whenever you have a few free minutes.
A solid online course will offer 24/7 tech support to ensure that you can stay connected in the event that any technical issues arise. You should also look for programs that allow you to continue to review course content even after the class has concluded, giving you a long-term reference to check back to for refreshers when new health informatics challenges arise.