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Health Informatics is one of the fastest growing areas within the very large field of information technology and computer science. Broadly speaking, health informatics is the application of the computing and information technology disciplines to solving problems in the field of health care.
The health care industry is striving to improve the quality of delivery of health care and at the same time reduce the costs. Mandates from both the federal government and state and regional organizations are providing drivers for addressing these goals. The recently passed Stimulus bill stipulates that $19 billion will be spent by the federal government to computerize health records. At the national level, the Department of Health and Human Services is providing higher Medicare reimbursements for small (3 to 5 physicians) practices which use certified Electronic Health Records and has set a goal that all people in the U.S. will have a permanent electronic medical record within 6 years; at the local level Blue Cross-Blue Shield mandates the use of such systems for physicians to be reimbursed (as of some near deadline).
These initiatives, plus location of many producers of software (such as Meditech, and TriZetto) for these systems in Massachusetts, and, of course, the need for local hospitals to implement, inter-operate and coordinate these systems have created a large number of opportunities for students who wish to build careers in this field. Health Informatics is an important and growing industry both locally and nationally.
Students graduating in this major would be desirable in IT departments at hospitals and other medium-to-large health care settings, and in companies developing software for the health care industry. Currently, the fastest growing part of the software industry is in health care, and many of these companies are local. There will also be positions in maintaining, modifying and managing software services.
The health informatics major fulfills the Simmons mission of combining liberal and professional education. It includes a sequence of computer science and information technology courses that provide a foundation of core concepts, upper division courses that provide depth, as well as electives that provide breadth in the areas in which technology may be applied. The major also provides both course and experiential learning in the health care industry.
The major is also inter-disciplinary in that 3 of the 10 required courses and all of the suggested electives are outside the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology.
The curriculum consists of:
Independent Learning: To be satisfied in the IT department of a hospital or HMO or at a company which develops software for the health care industry.
Electives:Students are strongly urged to select two or more of the following, depending of their specific interest and in consultation with their advisors:
Students should also consult with their advisors about the possibilities of a minor in Biology, Management, or Public Health.