This fall, the School of Health Studies and Education will add two options for students pursuing a future in the growing field of health informatics: a master’s degree and a certificate program.
A key moment to incentivize adoption of this technology began around 2008, when the federal government began to require the documentation of health care outcomes in a digital format. At the time, only about 30% of hospitals had an EHR in place. For the most part, records were still kept on paper.
The government, over about 10 years, pumped $29 billion into the health care system to help incentivize the adoption of electronic health care records. This had tremendous impacts on the ability to rapidly look at quality and how health care is being delivered. The EHR has become a key area of focus for not just patient-clinician interactions, but for providing the ability to trend and evaluate health outcomes over time.
The Health Informatics Degree at Saint Joseph’s
The new health informatics program at Saint Joseph’s has several unique characteristics, the first of which is innovation, according to Thomas Martin, Ph.D., assistant professor of health studies, who previously worked in the telecommunications and health care IT industries.
“Health IT environments are becoming a core function, when previously a chart was simply something to manage and move,” says Martin. “The challenge in health care is the same: What’s a quality experience, what’s a good outcome at the end of the day? Now, we need technology to foster that evaluation process. Technology over the past 15 years has played an outsized role in how we deliver health care.”