As the world grapples with a public health crisis and its predicted aftereffects, major healthcare decisions are driven increasingly by big data. Healthcare providers exist in a landscape where there’s very little margin for error, resource management is essential, and the science evolves by the second.
Emerging from this need is a new type of professional: they’re health-focused with a strong emphasis on helping people, but prefer to problem solve and crunch the numbers rather than tending directly to patients. Their expertise is in high demand, whether that’s conducting research, analysing data or making the decisions that drive major public health outcomes.
If this sounds like an area that interests you, Bond’s new Healthcare Informatics specialisation could be the ideal stepping stone to an exciting, meaningful career.
Deciphering healthcare informatics
So, what exactly is healthcare informatics? It’s referred to under a number of names, including ‘healthcare information systems’ and ‘health informatics’, but these all signify the same thing – the process of synthesising data using information technology, ultimately influencing the way we deliver, structure and support healthcare and healthcare systems.
“Healthcare informatics is the field of finding efficiency and accuracy from health industry data, both medical and administrative,” Steven Stern, Professor of Data Science – Bond Business School, says.
The healthcare informatics field is hugely varied, so practitioners may be working on improving existing technologies, creating new ones, conducting research or analysing data, just to name a few. The end goal here is to adapt and improve medical care to meet the world’s changing needs.
“Healthcare informatics is a crucial component in any society, particularly an ageing one, as it not only helps us develop better cures and treatments, but also shows us how to implement them in efficient and cost-effective ways,” Professor Stern says.
Bond’s major and minor in Healthcare Informatics
The new Healthcare Informatics major and minor are part of the Bachelor of Health Sciences, and are designed to help students develop and merge the skill sets of health and data analytics.
The flexibility of either a major or minor means that you can explore other core subjects within the Bachelor of Health Sciences, or build specialist knowledge in healthcare informatics.
“One of the crucial current issues in the healthcare industry is cost management, and with solid informatics, we can more effectively utilise the sector’s limited funds,” Professor Stern says.
The Healthcare Informatics major and minor are available to all students within the Bachelor of Health Sciences. Students that opt for the minor will study four subjects across data science, healthcare, statistics and/or economics, in addition to the core Health Sciences curriculum. Those who have selected the major will study six subjects across these disciplines.
You’ll learn basic and applied sciences on the healthcare side, which is supported with a strong focus on data analytics and its real-world applications. Students will synthesise big data sets and apply their learnings to the healthcare setting, building a strong foundation for problem solving and decision-making in medical settings.
A core component of this specialisation is practical experience on both sides, so students will have access to a huge number of facilities, including Bond’s anatomy, health science, human movement and mixed-reality laboratories. Bond Business School’s FinTech Hub is also at students’ disposal.
With rapid developments in healthcare, graduates of the Healthcare Informatics specialisation have the potential to go almost anywhere within this sector. The use of informatics to make conclusions and ultimately, decisions, about healthcare processes lends itself to areas including epidemiology, medical imaging, immunology, genomics, disease control, public health and virology.
On the technological side, areas of interest include artificial intelligence (AI), health technology, software system development for the health sector and cloud technology. The scope here is practically limitless – from powering through crucial research to developing new systems, roadmaps and even apps within a specific area of healthcare, a career in healthcare informatics could take you down so many avenues.
Who does it suit?
The big thinkers. The research junkies. The problem solvers. The empathetic doers.
The Healthcare Informatics specialisation as part of the Bachelor of Health Sciences suits a range of people across interests and study areas, and will attract those who don’t fit into the traditional mould of a health science student, who likely wants to practice within a hospital or clinical setting.
For instance, if you’re interested in maths but don’t want to be a mathematician, healthcare informatics could be for you.
Professor Stern encourages students who aren’t interested in ‘pure mathematics’ to still consider healthcare informatics, as this field relies more on logic rather than deep and complex numerical skills.
“Healthcare informatics is perfect for any logical thinker. Basic math skills are essential, but higher order mathematics, while useful, is not necessary by any means,” he says.
The same goes on the healthcare side – if you’re interested in health but don’t want to become a clinician, this adaptable, ever-growing field will allow you to make a difference and better the health of the population through informatics. More importantly, it will provide you with an excellent competitive advantage for a career in this fast-growing, dynamic sector of the healthcare industry.
The Healthcare Informatics major and minor within the Bachelor of Health Sciences is available to study from Semester 212 (May 2021).