Online Associate Degree Programs in Health Informatics

The Most Affordable Paths & Career Potential in Healthcare IT

Healthcare companies rely on data to improve patient outcomes, and they need professionals who understand the intersection of medicine and information technology. Healthcare informatics professionals retrieve, secure, store, and manage health data. While some graduates work as medical coders and administrators, others focus more on the technical aspects of healthcare in positions such as systems administrator and records supervisor. Associate degrees also prepare students to earn a bachelor's degree in this growing field.

What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Health Informatics Program?

The specific coursework students take while earning a health informatics associate degree online varies among schools. However, there are some common courses among these programs. Generally, students gain skills related to the collection, s
torage, security, and use of healthcdata. Students also learn basic healthcare concepts and terminology.

Some programs focus on healthcare coding, preparing graduates to work as certified medical billers and coders. Other healthcare informatics programs may concentrate on the technology of health data, leading to more technical careers, such as systems administration. The list below describes some common courses that students in healthcare informatics associate programs can expect to take.

Common Classes and Coursework

Medical Terminology for Allied Professionals

In this course, students learn the terminology that clinical professionals use in practice. This education allows graduates to effectively communicate with colleagues, read clinical notes, and understand healthcare data.

Healthcare Statistics

This class delves into the types of numerical data that clinicians and researchers collect. Students learn how to collect data, perform statistical analysis, and form conclusions based on these results.

Health Record Content and Structure

Healthcare records use specific structures, codes, and terms to ensure universal understanding across the profession. This course teaches students how to adhere to these standards. This skill is vital for medical billers and coders who must follow insurance protocols.

Computer Applications in Healthcare

This class teaches students how to use common healthcare software. Professors update these classes as the technology changes. Many employers require knowledge of these applications.

Health Information Technology Practicum

Some colleges require degree candidates to complete hands-on practica. Students may complete these experiences through online simulations or in-person internships, depending on the school. Practica allows candidates to apply the skills they learn in class to practical scenarios.

Skills You Will Gain

Students earning a health informatics associate degree online gain many valuable skills. One of the most essential skills students acquire is the ability to communicate with healthcare professionals across the industry. Classes in healthcare terminology and medical coding teach students how to interpret and communicate different kinds of healthcare data.

Healthcare informatics degrees also hone technological skills. Classes may teach learners about the latest software in the field and give students the skills needed to understand new technologies as they emerge. Students also learn how to keep healthcare data secure. Classes in legal issues and ethics in healthcare give participants the skills they need to navigate challenging situations. Some programs also include courses on the business of healthcare, including the industry's financial cycles and performance goals, which lays the foundation for managerial roles.

Average Degree Length

On average, associate degrees include about 60 credits of classes. Full-time students without transfer credits typically take two years to complete these programs. However, several factors can impact the length of a program, including transfer credits, course load, and program format.

Students who want to earn a health informatics associate degree online in less than two years can take summer courses or enroll in an accelerated program. These options may enable students to graduate in 12-18 months. Accelerated programs typically include eight-week courses with short breaks between terms. Not all schools offer accelerated programs or summer courses, so students should check with prospective institutions before enrolling.

Career Opportunities With an Associate Degree in Health Informatics

Graduates with an associate degree in health informatics enjoy diverse career options. They can find work in several types of healthcare organizations, including hospitals, outpatient centers, and clinics. The sections below detail several jobs that graduates can find after earning a health informatics associate degree online.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Health informatics salaries vary by job title, location, and experience. Graduates can work as coders or in the information technology side of healthcare, making sure that systems run smoothly. Some graduates work as medical receptionists, who may also perform coding duties. With several years of experience, graduates can even move into managerial roles. The table below describes five common careers for graduates with this degree.

Hospital Coder

These coding professionals maintain patient files in hospitals. They look through existing files to find any previous diagnoses. They also code charts so that other workers can properly bill insurance companies.

Average Annual Salary: $49,000

Medical Records Supervisor

These managers typically possess a few years of experience as medical billers or coders. They manage teams of medical records technicians in organizations such as nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and surgery centers.

Average Annual Salary: $47,000

Coding Manager

Coding managers oversee all aspects of patient data at large healthcare organizations, such as hospitals. Their duties may include hiring coders, securing network data, and implementing new software.

Average Annual Salary: $68,000

Systems Administrator

These technology professionals oversee the networks and systems in an organization, including healthcare companies. They manage updates, security, and maintenance of technology in the organization.

Average Annual Salary: $61,000

Medical Receptionist

These front-desk professionals check in patients, complete general office tasks, and schedule appointments. While this position typically only requires a high school diploma, an associate degree gives candidates a competitive edge in the job market.

Average Annual Salary: $30,000

Source: PayScale

Five Health Informatics Scholarships to Apply For

Earning a health informatics associate degree online may be an excellent investment, but it can come at a high cost. Fortunately, students can take advantage of scholarships to help pay for their degree. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for health informatics students.

American Health Information Management Association Foundation

  • Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in associate programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education qualify for this award.
  • Amount: $1,000


College of Health Care Professions American Dream Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Students pursuing associate degrees in health informatics can apply for this award. Candidates must write an essay describing their career goals. They also need a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Amount: $1,000


Employer-sponsored Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: Some employers offer tuition support through scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs. Students should check with their employer's human resources department to learn about any opportunities.
  • Amount: Varies


School-specific Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: Colleges often offer scholarships for qualified students in associate programs. Schools may award these scholarships based on merit, need, or a combination of the two.
  • Amount: Varies


State Association Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: Local AHIMA chapters often award scholarships for students based on merit or financial need. Students can also find opportunities from other professional associations.
  • Amount: Varies

Educational Advancement in Health Informatics

While earning a health informatics associate degree online prepares students for entry-level jobs, bachelor's and graduate degrees in health informatics prepare graduates for positions with higher pay and more responsibility.

Should You Transfer to a Four-year Degree Program?

In many cases, students can finish a bachelor's program in just two years after earning an associate degree. Students should discuss this possibility with their academic advisor. Many colleges hold transfer agreements with nearby universities, although some schools may not accept any or all of a student's associate degree credits, particularly if their degree is not properly accredited.

What Degree Paths Should You Consider?

Universities across the country offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in healthcare informatics. With each higher degree, students dive deeper into this changing topic and gain more valuable skills. At the master's and doctoral levels, students become experts in the field.

    Bachelor's in Health Informatics

    These programs teach students about the business of healthcare, including finance, marketing, and management. Graduates may qualify for some mid-level management positions.

    Master's in Health Informatics

    In graduate programs, students learn to manage healthcare data on a macro level. Graduates can design, implement, and manage health information systems and software.

    Ph.D. in Health Informatics

    These research-focused degrees teach learners how to develop new systems for and approaches to patient data. Graduates may also work in academia as professors and researchers.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Healthcare informatics students and graduates benefit from joining professional organizations. Many organizations offer benefits like continuing education, professional development, and networking opportunities.

Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ABHES is one of the primary organizations that oversees programmatic accreditation for healthcare and allied health education. Prospective students can use this site to find schools with these credentials.

Allied Health Careers

This job board includes positions for all types of allied health workers nationwide, including jobs for healthcare informatics professionals.

Allied Health Job Cafe

This job board allows visitors to post their resume and search for open jobs by specialty or location. Users can also access resume and CV help.

American Health Information Management Association

AHIMA is a professional organization that offers several career-boosting benefits, including certifications, networking opportunities, webinars, mentorships, and research.

American Medical Informatics Association

AMIA members gain access to an online networking community, an exclusive job board, interview help, discounts on industry publications, and conferences.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

CAAHEP analyzes and accredits allied health programs across the country, including some programs that offer health informatics associate degrees. Prospective students can find a list of accredited schools on this site.

Health Informatics Journal

This industry journal includes some of the latest research in healthcare informatics. Visitors can use the publication to help with school work or stay up-to-date on best practices.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society

HIMSS is a nonprofit organization that promotes the safe transfer of healthcare information through innovative technologies. It offers news, scholarships, and continuing education opportunities.

Healthcare Innovation

This online magazine covers healthcare and new technology. It offers articles on topics including health informatics developments, AI in medicine, cybersecurity, and the healthcare revenue cycle.

Journal of Health and Medical Informatics

This peer-reviewed journal offers white papers and studies on healthcare information technology. The journal is open access — anyone can read it without a subscription.