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UIC master’s in health informatics ranked 3rd in U.S.

Posted Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:15:00 CST

The online master’s degree in health informatics at the University of Illinois at Chicago was ranked 3rd in the country by Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration, an online resource for advanced degree-seeking students and professionals interested in health care management.

The program, offered by the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, was the first in the country to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). First offered in a traditional classroom format in 1992 as a six-course campus certificate, the health informatics program evolved into a Master of Science program in 2002 and later switched to a fully online platform in 2008 to better meet the needs of its students.

“The health informatics program has a long history of excellence in traditional and online education,” says Bo Fernhall, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences. “Not only do we have experienced faculty and world-class students, we also have a program that is very nimble and flexible to the rapidly evolving field, which is increasingly vital to clinical and operational decision-making in health care.”

Nearly 400 students are currently enrolled in the program, which has seen a significant increase in enrollment over the past decade and has contributed more than 500 alumni to work in the field. In 2016, the department launched a Ph.D. degree to expand the university’s capacity for research and to build health informatics knowledge.

Health Informatics includes the practices of data collection, analysis and curation for application across a span of contexts in health care systems that include transformations between data, information and knowledge. Mike Dieter, clinical assistant professor of biomedical and health information sciences and director of the health informatics program, says this provides the grounds for building theory from practice.

Dieter said the advent of electronic medical record technology has ushered in an era of data-driven practices in the health care industry.

“As recently as 10 years ago, few health care organizations had explicit health informatics positions,” Dieter said. “Now, with increasingly large repositories of health data to provide information to stakeholders, including patients, organizations need experts who can manage and use that data effectively and meaningfully. Health informatics serves to inform and derive value from health care’s broad use of information technology, including the core systems of clinical care, by enabling the ability to monitor and evaluate health care practices and to support decision making.

“Our goal is to prepare leaders and managers who can improve this system based upon decisions driven by data,” Dieter said.

Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration based their rankings on five factors: accreditation, association membership, experiential learning, concentrations and tuition. UIC received 95 out of 100 possible points. Nos. 1 and 2 were Dakota State University in South Dakota and Kent State University in Ohio, respectively.