New Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics Fills Urgent Need in Healthcare Industry

side-by-side photo of computer and stethescope next to computer science student

Villanova is at the forefront of a growing health informatics specialization within the computing sciences field

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Healthcare … it’s complicated … for patients, for individual clinical providers, for large healthcare systems, and insurers. This complexity is not surprising since healthcare is a multi-trillion dollar industry that operates at the leading edges of scientific, engineering and medical knowledge.

As with many complex socio-technical fields, the healthcare industry is turning to the field of computing sciences for solutions, and Villanova University, a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Academic Affiliate, is at the forefront of a growing health informatics specialization to enable healthcare reform.

“Health care expenditures in the U.S. have grown by more than $1 trillion since 2008,” says Villanova Computing Sciences faculty member Elliot Sloane, PhD, a HIMSS Certified Instructor. “Our current healthcare expenses, plus our aging and retiring population, are driving unsustainable costs, which is why the health informatics field is such an important piece of our national health care puzzle.”

While it is related to health information technology systems such as electronic medical records, health informatics is the science—the how and why behind health IT, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health informatics professionals solve systematic problems that help healthcare providers reduce costs while improving results for patients.

Villanova’s new Online Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics is unique because it is geared toward working computing, engineering, nursing and allied health professionals who want to advance or begin their careers in health informatics. The courses are taught by experienced professors in the Department of Computing Sciences, and applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and experience in computer programming, systems, engineering or health sciences.

Villanova’s Health Informatics Graduate Certificate will equip students with the knowledge to: understand and manage core components of electronic health record systems, understand and implement health IT standards and interoperability imperatives of IT and hospital information systems; understand and manage emerging federal and state policies, cybersecurity, privacy and ethical issues pertaining to electronic health information systems. This knowledge will also prepare graduates for more advanced opportunities in fields like health data analytics, clinical decision support systems and related projects.

While healthcare providers have embraced technologies such as Electronic Health Records, research by HealthIT.gov, has shown that there exists a substantial lack of an adequately trained workforce conversant with health IT standards, policy and technology. As a result, employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 15 percent through 2024, which is more than double the average growth for all occupations in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Put simply,” adds Dr. Sloane, “we have the technology to transform health care; what we lack is a critical mass of experienced professionals to design, develop and deploy robust, interoperable and secure systems, as well as plans to maximize this technology’s impact on daily healthcare delivery. We are poised for tremendous job growth in this area, but more important, these are jobs that will have a meaningful impact on people’s lives.”

Villanova’s Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics is designed to get students up to speed and out in the field quickly. The program is 100 percent online, providing flexibility and convenience for the working professional. What’s more, the certificate requires only five, three-credit courses, meaning it can reasonably be completed within a year. In addition, if students are interested in pursuing their graduate education further, their Health Informatics credits can transfer to Villanova’s full master’s degree in Software Engineering.

Anyone interested in learning more about Villanova’s new Health Informatics Certificate or any other Computing Science programs, should contact Graduate Program Director Vijay Gehlot, PhD, at 610-519-7310 or vijay.gehlot@villanova.edu.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.