In what is a first, professors with a major university’s medical school are teaching distance learning classes for a master’s degree in health informatics that is offered completely online.
The University of South Florida is the first school in the nation to offer both online graduate certificates and a master’s degree in science for health informatics, according to a news release from the university.The underlying principle is that those who work in the profession are best-suited to teach and prepare students for what it will be like to actually work in the health informatics industry.
The program became available this month.
“There is a real need in today’s marketplace for employees who understand both healthcare and information science,” USF President Judy Genshaft said in the release.
The Tampa, Fla.-based university is offering the online program in a partnership with Bisk Education, which is also headquartered in Tampa. Bisk Education offers distance learning programs for a number of schools, including Villanova University, Notre Dame University, the University of Florida and Michigan State University.
It’s a timely announcement. Health informatics is a growing field as more medical facilities move to electronic healthcare records under a federal mandate to do so by 2014.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 21 percent increase in the number of jobs in health informatics by 2020, which means another 37,000 people moving into the field. According to the BLS, the majority of health informatics personnel – called medical records and health information technicians by the BLS – work in hospitals (39%), followed by physician offices (23%), nursing care facilities (7%) and home health care services (3%).
In addition to the new online class offering, USF has also received a $6 million federal grant for PaperFree Florida, a program designed to help doctors learn how to use electronic health records.