Health informatics is a discipline that combines healthcare, computer science and information science, and includes the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of information related to patients' health, their medical history, medicinal prescriptions and various test results. The information is stored in healthcare databases, which are nothing but software applications that have been developed especially for maintaining patients' health records. Such software systems are also developed for public health departments, schools, colleges and healthcare agencies.

Health informatics is one of most rapidly growing fields, generating a huge number of employment opportunities. The discipline is gaining prominence, not only in Canada but around the world, because it has received a considerable attention from the government as an attempt to reorganize the delivery of healthcare services. Moreover, it has become important for hospitals and other healthcare agencies to maintain records, so that they can be retrieved quickly whenever required. This helps them improve their patient care services and fast-track the delivery of healthcare services.

This has resulted in a huge demand for skilled healthcare informatics professionals around the world. Since the field is relatively new and has experienced a sudden and rapid expansion, there is acute shortage of professionals who understand healthcare and information technology and can help organizations deal with the challenges with designing, developing and implementing health information systems.

Preparing for a Health Informatics Career

As the field of healthcare informatics is rapidly growing, current can be considered the right time to gain required knowledge and skills and seek an entry to the world of work. A post-secondary diploma in healthcare informatics technology is the minimum requirement to seek employment in this field. It incorporates the knowledge of both healthcare systems and information technology and provides you with the skills to design, develop, modify and test software for healthcare applications.

A healthcare informatics courses typically runs for three-years through six semesters and emphasizes on object-oriented software design methodologies, user-oriented interface design, and structure of healthcare information systems, data security, telehealth and privacy in healthcare systems.

It covers a wide range of subjects, including Software Engineering Fundamentals, Database Concepts, Functions and Number Systems, Web Interface Design, Software Engineering Methodologies, Web Application Developments, Tools, Methods and Algorithms for HCIS, Network Technologies, Programming, Linear Algebra and Statistics, Wireless Programming, Data Warehousing and Data Mining, Data Security and Privacy Policies, IT Project Management, Systems Integration, Computer Techniques in Medical Imaging and Business Communications.

Choosing the Right Course

As the field is relatively new, there are only a few colleges in Canada that offer post-secondary healthcare informatics courses. And not all colleges offer accredited programs. Centennial College's health informatics technology program is accredited by CTAB/CIPS. Moreover, the program has met the national technology accreditation requirements established by the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT).

The students of this program are prepared for entry-level positions in clinical, educational and research environments. The graduates can work as software developers, system implementation specialists, health data analysts, business/system analysts or database developers with IT firms, hospitals, healthcare agencies, public health departments and education and research institutions.