What is Health Informatics?
When you search the internet for health informatics the first few pages of results are mostly college programs. These do a good job explaining their programs and what you might do after graduation with healthcare data. However, they explore what it’s like to work in the field and the variety of data and questions you will cover. I’ve been doing reporting and data analytic projects for over 20 years. I’ve worked specifically in healthcare analytics for over 10 years and often get asked what is the difference between working in healthcare and other industries. The answer is the data and regulations around the data.
Health informatics is what business intelligence is to non-healthcare companies. Depending upon what type of business your healthcare company is such as provider, payer, hospital, etc. How you use data and your goals can vary based upon your business objectives. Data is the core of healthcare analytics and must be stored in a manner that makes it easy to organize, catalog and retrieve.
Common Data Sources for health informatics for health care data:
- Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)
- Data collected and stored at a patient level from a provider or hospital
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
- A collection of EMR data from various providers that provides medical history overall
- Claims Data
- Details about patient visits submitted as a claim to health care payers
- Authorizations Data
- Health care information required to have a heath care payer approve a procedure a medically necessary
- Patient Demographics
- Data specific to the patient or member such as gender, height, or weight. Also includes information about where they live.
- Health Surveys
- Heath information voluntarily submitted that provides medical self assessment of current health metrics
- Clinical Data
- Trial Data
- CRM Data
For context, here are some common questions that are asked from health informatics.
- How many people received the flu shot?
- Of those how many reported having the flu?
- Who are the members that have the highest claims?
- What can we do to further mitigate additional claims?
- What percentage of people have had a yearly physical?
- What is the medical loss ratio on people that had a yearly physical vs those without?
- What is the average length of stay for an inpatient procedure?
- What are we seeing in the data that could improve patient outcomes for transplants?
Examples of Healthcare Data for Informatics
Getting data and analytics out of your healthcare data can be challenging, however, when done correctly it can dramatically increase the insights into your business. Below are some examples of the types of analytics that can be done with various healthcare data.
- Social Determinants of Health
- Mash up demographic data with 3rd party data
- Census data
- Population Health
- Data to track and impact the large groups of people
- Merging Authorization data and claim data
- Compare authorizations to actual billing
- Machine Learning
- Improving Patient Outcomes
- Tracking procedure, providers, locations and quality
- Reduce readmission rates and root cause
- Increased Efficiency
- Consolidated data on patients or members
- Provide comprehensive view quickly to increase efficiency
Health Informatics Data Systems Examples
Integration of data can come from a variety of sources. Creating deep health care analytics based on three core areas: clinical informatics, health information, and medical informatics. Some of the common types of health providers are listed below. Each one will have many different applications that collect data about patients. These applications are designed to run the business of healthcare and to manage the healthcare information (clinical data) of the people they serve. Often you will need to combine data from both types of applications to produce richer health informatics and data analytics.
- Behavior Health Providers
- Private Health Providers
- Ambulatory Health Providers
- Community Health Providers
- Emergency Medical Providers
- Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)
- Rural Health Providers
- Lab Centers
- Imaging Centers
- Long Term Services & Support
- Post-Acute Care Centers
Health informatics covers all aspects of health data. Examples of health informatics include:
- Increased Patient Outcomes
- Reduced Claim Expenses
- Machine Learning to find trends and patterns
- Higher Quality Metrics
- Decreased Total Cost of Healthcare
There are a lot of opportunities for people wanting to work in health informatics. Typical roles include, data analyst, business analyst or healthcare analytics analyst. These roles typically focus on finding the best data to answer a variety of business questions. This includes both ad-hoc or standardized reports and dashboards.