Smart technology is the staple of modern living.
It surrounds us from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep in the form of smart phones, laptops, tablets and televisions. If that weren’t troubling enough, today, everything from thumb drives to copiers store our personal information. Thus, there has never been a more opportune – or more frightening – time to work in the field of data management.
But while the James M. Hull College of Business teaches students to use the web to become first-line data defenders, the College of Allied Health Sciences is taking a different approach to its cyber education.
Offered by the Georgia Regents University Department of Clinical and Digital Health Sciences, the Bachelor of Science and postbaccalaureate certificate in Health Information Administration programs represent GRU’s tireless effort to improve health care through the use of technology.
But what exactly do Health Information Administrators do?
In addition to organizing information used in evidence-based medicine, HIAs also arm health care providers with organized evidence to support patient care, reimbursement, teaching, research, quality improvement and legal inquiries. Accomplished in both the art and science of electronic information systems, HIAs advocate for the patient-provider relationship and serve as information suppliers for the business side of evidence-based medicine.
The HIA program began at GRU in 1962 under the direction of Juanita Sirmans. Then part of the Medical College of Georgia, the program was unable to recruit a qualified medical record librarian at the time of its inception. In place of recruiting, then, Sirmans took a year’s leave of absence to attend the U.S. Public Health Service medical record librarian educational program to become qualified herself.
Today, the HIA program maintains that same level of dedication to the education of its students.
Lori Prince, director of the Health Information Administration programs, said the HIA program teaches students a broad spectrum of topics.
“HIA touches every sector of healthcare from the quality of patient care to compliance with regulatory agencies, to implementation of new software for clinical care,” she said. “A critical area of need with personal health information being electronic is archiving, securing and protecting that information, so HIA even plays a major role in cyber security. “
Prince said both programs seek to instill students with the professional knowledge, skills and competencies needed to succeed in the health information management profession.
Courses range from a basic introduction to Health Information Administration in students’ junior year to ethics, medical terminology and data management classes as students progress. According to Prince, graduates of the Health Information Administration programs will be well-prepared to assume an entry-level position in the field.
Both programs are offered completely online, and a list of software and hardware requirements can be found here. The Bachelor of Science in Health Information Administration program is also offered on-campus.
Prince said the decision to host HIA classes online in 1998 was in direct response to applicant interest.
“Many of our applicants, some form as far away as Hawaii, could not physically relocate to Augusta, but wanted to start a career in HIA,” she said. “Around 2005, due to applicant demand, the decision was made to offer the Post-bac program solely online. Today, we still have applicants applying from around the world.”
As with cybersecurity professionals, Prince said there is currently a national shortage of Health Information Administrators, so job prospects for graduates have never looked better.
“In 2014, a Georgia workforce study demonstrated Health IT jobs will continue to increase,” said Prince. “The skill clusters of this workforce will incorporate health information, communication, software and programming skills, critical thinking and problem solving, business management and project management – exactly what a degree or certificate in HIA will provide.”