The widespread use of technology, along with changes in how information is gathered and disseminated has led to the development of a new career field: that of biomedical informatics. The exchange of information, particularly electronic data, is playing an ever-important role in how patients are treated, which is why there is a growing need for people to work in this industry.
What is Biomedical Informatics?
Put simply, biomedical informatics involves the use of technology to provide doctors and other health care providers with the information needed to treat patients. This field encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including research, health care administration, cognitive science, information science and engineering, among others. The goal of biomedical informatics is to improve the health care system as a whole by allowing faster and easier methods of treating patients and conducting research.
Duties and Responsibilities
A biomedical informatics job description will involve working closely with different computer systems and software programs that are designed especially for the medical industry. Software coding is an integral part of one’s daily duties; however, the coding done by one of these professionals is very different than that of other coders, in that the focus is on bodily systems, diseases, and treatments. As such, coding efforts will be tailored to meet the needs of medical professionals.
Individuals who work in biomedical informatics tend to spend most of their time in an office environment, and some may even be permitted to work remotely. Once a new program has been developed, a technician may then enter a medical setting directly in order to test it. Long working hours are sometimes required, especially when a project gets close to the testing phase.
Skills and Abilities Needed
A biomedical informatics technician must have a well-rounded knowledge of computer systems and technology in general, in addition to knowing some basic medical information such as anatomy and medical terminology. Good math skills are also important, since the programs he or she writes must often perform precise calculations. The ability to work under strict deadlines and perform one’s duties without supervision is also important. Finally, attention to detail cannot be overlooked, since the outcome of an individual’s work can affect everyone from surgeons to patients.
How to Become One
The minimum education needed in order to work as a biomedical informatics specialist is at least a Master’s degree in biomedical information technology. Even so, many schools are now recognizing how important this career field is, and have begun offering doctorate degrees in this discipline. To earn a Ph.D., at least two years of intensive research is normally required by most universities. Once hired, an on-the-job training program is required before an individual will be trusted with a major project.
Biomedical Informatics Salary
Since they have highly technical skills, biomedical informatics technicians earn a very lucrative salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for these professionals is somewhere in the neighborhood of around $73,000 annually. Those at the top of the pay scale can expect to earn as much as $112,400 each year. The longer one works in this industry, the more money he or she can expect to make.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for biomedical informatics specialists will increase by around 14% by the year 2020, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. Those who find employment in this field will enjoy a great deal of stability on the job, since they cannot easily be replaced. The fact that there is very little turnover in this career field is likely the reason for only an average increase in demand being predicted over the next few years. That could change over time, as advances in technology and the medical field in general could increase the demand for biomedical information.
Biomedical Informatics Jobs
A number of jobs are available with companies that specialize in healthcare information and technology, although some may also be found in other software companies. Some clinics and universities may desire their own information systems, and might therefore hire information specialists of their own. Private consulting firms are also a major employer of these workers, as is the federal government.
The work of biomedical information specialists allow health care workers everywhere to perform their duties with ease. The fact that information technology helps health care practitioners save time, make an early diagnosis, and recommend the right treatment means it saves people money on their medical care as well.