Types of Informaticists
Informaticists tend to have hybrid skill sets with expertise in healthcare, health information technology, and/or healthcare business, operations and management. Some enter the field starting out in healthcare and learn more about the tech aspects (like me) and some start out in tech and gain interest in health and healthcare. I’ve seen a lot of current CMIO’s who have Bachelor degrees in biomedical engineering, computer science, or computer engineering and later went to med school or those who did the traditional medical pathway and then worked at the VA or National Library of Medicine on informatics projects, or those who became project leads on hospitals transitioning from paper to EMR. These CMIO/CIO/CXO/Directors etc have 20, 30, 40 years of experience and helped shape what the field is today.
Informaticists coming in from the clinical side bring their medical expertise and real world clinical experience. They understand workflow and workflow challenges. They also understand the flow of information. Though not necessarily a biller, computer programmer or a health IT tech, they understand those roles and may have some of those skill sets and/or work with folks that have those roles.
From tech side I see folks with deep knowledge in analytics, programming, engineering and who are willing and able to learn about health and the delivery of healthcare. I also would add that everyone understands what it’s like to be a pt.
Clinical and nonclinical work experience are equally important. Technology is now a required pillar in every industry and it’s helpful to have people who are familiar with it and can help leverage it as a tool to solve healthcare’s most pressing and ominous issues.
Places to work
Informaticists work in all areas of healthcare. I see informaticists in hospitals, outpatient settings, research, consulting, nonprofits, government, startups, Big Tech, academia, think tanks, medical societies, in public and global health, etc. Their titles may not explicitly say “informaticist” but the work they do is very much informatics.
Helpful skills to have:
-Domain expertise-healthcare and/or tech
-Understanding technical and clinical concepts if starting as an expert in one domain (proficiency will develop as you grow)
-Work well with others and alone-You will interface with individuals from a variety of backgrounds
-Communication skills- You will be translating information for different audiences and teaching new concepts
-Change management-You will be working on new things that may never have been done before.
-Time management skills -often you might be the only one with this blended expertise and you will be involved in many projects, workgroups and activities
-Able to tolerate risk and rapidly changing environment.
-Commitment to Life long learning-The field changes rapidly and keeping up to speed involves reading, webinars, conferences, learning new tools and technologies, practicing informatics, and talking to others in the field. Plus keeping up with clinical guidelines.