So Much Opportunity, So Many Challenges

As I consider what to write in this blog posting, I think about all the opportunities I see in health informatics. As an information management professional, I have been working with data and computer systems for over 20 years. But health informatics is still in the beginning stages of providing the kind of value seen in other industries. It is hard to consider how I might approach the needs of the healthcare industry and provide support.  There are just so many areas of research, so many opportunities to get involved and so many challenges to overcome. I’m daunted by the amount of information I don’t know about medicine and health care. How can I contribute from my background in a way that helps solve problems and move the industry forward?

My current class provides an excellent example of the sheer number of subject areas related to health informatics. I’m currently taking BHIS 530: Biomedical and Health Information Sciences: Topics in Health Informatics as part of University of Illinois at Chicago’s Health Information Management Master’s Degree program. This course is scheduled toward the end of a student’s course of study. Topics include:

  • What is a Health Informatician?
  • The Scope of Challenges and Opportunities for Health Informatics
  • Short Term Challenges: Meaningful Use and ICD-10 conversion
  • Long Term Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies: Recognizing and realizing value from HIT, Evaluating HI infrastructure
  • Personal Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies: The Future of Health Informatics, Personal Perspectives on HI

In other courses we discussed: legal and ethical considerations; different technologies like electronic medical records, PACS, ePrescribing, etc; organizational issues; health care data; and communication skills. We discussed different types of organizations which may use HI including hospitals, physician practices, health plans, governmental agencies, HIEs, etc. We looked at HI issues as they relate to patient privacy and security, to system implementations, to data quality and to adoption of technology.

So, as I continue in my career, I’m looking to find a niche in this field which will allow me to apply my experiences in data management, business intelligence, project management and IT consulting with my new knowledge about healthcare and health informatics. I know I must work hand in hand with those colleagues who come from a clinical background because their knowledge and experience will be the true driver toward success in HI. But I believe we all have contributions we can make toward improving the healthcare system for current and future patients. My interest is on data analysis and the opportunities we have in providing insight from information once it has been collected and integrated. So far, I’ve seen opportunities for this type of work in data warehousing with hospital systems, payers or public and government health organizations. In my next post, I’ll explore other opportunities for data integration and analysis as career options. If you have any suggestions, please post a comment.

Thank you until next time, Yvette

About the author


Yvette Desmarais

Yvette is a Masters student with University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Health Informatics Program. She works for Hewlett-Packard as a consulting project manager in their Information Management and Analytics group where she focuses on Health and Life Science analytics and data warehousing.