Online Biomedical & Health Technology Degrees and Courses

The health sciences sector is abuzz with career potential. Technologically the medical world at large has exploded wide open. Medical data of all kinds—images and text—have historically been stored in vast warehouses, and cutting edge and world-class research experiments have been logged on paper. However, the conversion to electronic storage, begun only about a half-dozen years ago, necessitates skilled professionals from entry-level technicians up to graduate level programmers and database managers.

If the technological Ah-ha! seems remedial, the benefit of delay lies in reliability of the systems now in place. With the exception of customization, sophisticated enterprise infrastructures are already tried and tested and being rapidly converted to healthcare and medical environments.

Degree Types

The range of degrees and programs available indicates the level of need in the industry. Students interested in a job or career in healthcare technology may pursue Associates, Bachelors, Masters and even Doctoral degrees in some disciplines. Online programs provide flexibility suited to working professionals with time constraints.

Health Information Technology

An Associates degree in Health Information Technology prepares students for immediate entry into jobs that demand rapid migration of data from hard-copy to electronic. Two-year programs offer curriculum that explores the factors and constraints inherent in electronic medical data, including security and privacy issues, storage, and accuracy. Some HIT programs include a clinical segment, during which students spend time in an actual healthcare HIT environment. Students often use the Associates degree to transfer to a four-year program.

Bachelors in HIT degrees may be focused in one of two areas—administration or technical design. Both degrees incorporate core undergraduate coursework—a cross-section of all around disciplines. The technical approach packages coursework such as computer science, database design and management, and programming languages into the degree. HIT administration emphasizes healthcare management, medical terminology, and statistics and calculus. Graduates migrate into mid-level jobs that require basic decision-making and leadership skills in the management of all aspects of medical records.

Health Informatics

Informatics is the new word of the day in health sciences. Where practical health information technology leaves off, informatics picks up. The field is tailor-made for individuals able to synthesize disparate business elements and conceptualize viable technical solutions. Deployment as well as administration of critical medical records is necessary. Two-year Associates degrees in Health Informatics prepare technically skilled students for positions in clinical data management, data testing, and in clinical situations where large amounts of patient and medical data are handled.

Bachelors degrees in Health Informatics and Administration provide students with a solid foundation in design of healthcare information, delivery of healthcare technology, systems design and management, and healthcare regulations and issues.

Masters degrees mix classroom and clinical programs. Curriculum embraces elements of business and information management. Course topics include: probability and statistics, database design and management, cost management, organizational behavior, project management, health information systems, and network security and management. Graduates are prepared for immediate mid-level management jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, laboratories and other healthcare environments that manage large chunks of medical and patient data.

The Ph.D. degree may alternately be called Clinical or Medical Informatics. This post-graduate program develops research and academic professionals. Candidates for the doctoral degree study medical and administrative systems of data delivery. They conduct very customized research and develop solutions necessary for the next generation of synthesized networks.

Biomedical Informatics

Closely associated to Health Informatics is the field of Biomedical Informatics. Degree programs in BI train students to apply very technical skills in programming, data modeling, database design, and imaging to medical applications. Students primarily study at a Bachelors or Masters level and often spend part of their program in a clinical setting. Technical courses complement medical topics, such as anatomy and physiology, biology, and biochemistry.

Career Outlook

Healthcare information and medical data run the gamut from basic patient records to sophisticated radiologic imaging, and sensitive world-class research data. Security, privacy, network integration, and scalability are all examples of issues related to electronic medical data. As the fields widen to more fully integrate all aspects of health care information and administrative layers, the number of jobs will likely increase as will the required skill sets.