Health informatics studies the nature of medical data and the use of information technology to manage health-related information in medical practice, education, and research. With increases in the application and uses of information technology in the medical industry, there is an unprecedented need for professionals who can combine their knowledge of computing and health care to improve the safety and quality of care delivery, as well as to help control costs.
The MS degree in health informatics applies the creative power of information technology to the information and data needs of health care. This includes the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of patient data, as well as access to electronically maintained medical knowledge for use in patient care, research, and education. Professionals in the field require computing expertise; an understanding of formal medical terminology, clinical processes, and guidelines; and an understanding of how information and communication systems can be used to successfully deliver patient information in various health care settings.
The program offers two tracks: the clinician track and analyst track.
Internet and Software
Scientific and Technical Consulting
Health informatics, MS degree, typical course sequence
Sem. Cr. Hrs.
Introduction to Medical Informatics
This course provides a rigorous introduction to the principles of medical informatics. The focus of this course is on the study of the nature of medical information and its use in clinical practice and clinical quality improvement. Key topics include: the electronic medical record (EMR) and its impact on health care delivery, the Internet and mobile computing as sources of medical information, Health care information systems, the software development lifecycle, the importance of the informatics specialists in medicine and the various roles they can play, and government economic incentives and policy issues in healthcare such as privacy, confidentiality, including health care regulatory and accreditation issues and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Students will participate in online discussion of medical informatics. They will also investigate several topics of interest in the field and provide presentations.
Clinical Information Systems
A study of the component approach to clinical information systems. Students will learn about the evolution of Health Information Systems, and the variety of systems offered by vendors at the present time. The importance of the Electronic Health Record (EHR), the Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) and Clinical Decision Support will be stressed as they become the focal points in clinical information systems. The following components will be studied in detail: patient, activity, health record, knowledge, and security components. The role of imaging management and integration will also be reviewed.
Foundations of Human-Computer Interaction
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a field of study concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. This course surveys the scope of issues and foundations of the HCI field: cognitive psychology, human factors, interaction styles, user analysis, task analysis, interaction design methods and techniques, and evaluation. This course will focus on the users and their tasks.
Practice of Health Care (summer)
This course is an introduction to clinical practice for graduate students in medical informatics. It consists of the study of six medical specialties including shadowing of clinicians in these areas. Students in this course will be part of a team of health care professionals in the selected specialties. They will round with providers, assist with information gathering and dissemination, and observe specialty specific disease process, diagnosis and treatment. They will observe and note clinical workflow and technology usage. They will interact with team members and assist with the acquisition of reference knowledge as appropriate. They will keep a log of cases during the rotation and use this as the basis for their research project and case presentation.
Clinical Decision Support
This course provides a rigorous introduction to the principles of modeling and implementing decision support systems. It begins with an overview of how to frame a clinical or health care management question, develop a decision support model, and find appropriate evidence for model calibration. The major decision categories covered in the course for clinical practice include those regarding treatment, diagnosis, harm (etiology), and prognosis. The major decision categories covered in the course for health care management include service provision, resource allocation, and cost-effectiveness. The course will identify the best types of evidence to answer questions, and how to find and apply that evidence. The decision support modeling techniques include game theory, Bayesian theory, decision trees, planning models, systems dynamics models, and queuing models. The course concludes with a section on summarizing evidence (e.g., through systematic reviews and meta-analysis), putting evidence into practice (e.g., implementing clinical practice guidelines), and the limitations of the approaches covered in the course. Students will apply decision support techniques in addressing real world problems using appropriate software and participate in online discussion of decision analysis in the medical literature.
Medical Knowledge Structures
This course presents concepts related to organization and retrieval of knowledge-based information in the health sciences. It includes a study of classification schemes, controlled vocabularies and thesauri, metadata, and ontologies. Major schemes and systems examined, for example, include MeSH, UMLS, and PubMed. Also covered are the topics of knowledge retrieval at the point of care, and knowledge discovery.
Capstone in Health Informatics
This team-based course provides students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learned in coursework to design, develop, and implement a solution to a real problem in the medical informatics domain. Project teams also will be responsible for submitting a final project report, and for making a final presentation to project stakeholders. (Completion of first year courses)
Total Semester Credit Hours
This course introduces students to Visual Analytics, or the science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interfaces. Course lectures, reading assignments, and practical lab experiences will cover a mix of theoretical and technical Visual Analytics topics. Topics include analytical reasoning, human cognition and perception of visual information, visual representation and interaction technologies, data representation and transformation, production, presentation, and dissemination of analytic process results, and Visual Analytic case studies and applications. Furthermore, students will learn relevant Visual Analytics research trends such as Space, Time, and Multivariate Analytics and Extreme Scale Visual Analytics.
Medical Application Integration
A typical hospital information system architecture contains a variety of best of breed applications running on different hardware and software platforms. Exchange of information between these applications can be a significant problem. In this course, students will learn how to leverage the loose coupling of service-oriented architectures and message oriented middleware to address the issues of data integration between these types of computer programs when executing across domains. Programming projects will be required. (Students will need a database theory course, and one year of object-oriented programming to be successful in this course)
Building the Electronic Health Record
This course explores the acquisition, storage, and use of information in the electronic health record (EHR) through hands-on development and programming. Students will learn about the types of information used in clinical care: text, structured data, images, and sounds. Other topics covered include: clinical vocabularies (existing schemes and their limitations); how clinical information is generated and utilized; methods of information storage and retrieval; departmental systems (laboratory, radiology, and hospital information systems); organizational systems (including scheduling, registration and financial systems); and the legal, social and regulatory problems of EHRs including security and confidentiality.
Database Design and Implementation
An introduction to the theory and practice of designing and implementing database systems. Current software environments are used to explore effective database design and implementation concepts and strategies. Topics include conceptual data modeling, methodologies, logical/physical database design, normalization, relational algebra, schema creation and data manipulation, and transaction design. Database design and implementation projects are required.
This course is an introductory scripting course. Students will learn to design software solutions using the procedural approach, to implement software solutions using a contemporary programming language, and to test these software solutions. Topics include problem definitions, designing solutions, implementing solutions using a contemporary programming language, implementing a contemporary library/framework, and testing software solutions. Programming projects will be required.
System Integration Concepts
This course will provide students with an understanding of application integration concepts in healthcare. Students will also learn medical business processes and how they impact data integration within a healthcare setting. Middleware message brokers will be examined along with the use of the HL7 messaging standard. Web services and other forms of data integration will be studied. Students will develop integration solutions to support healthcare information systems exchange and validation procedures and solutions to ensure the quality of information exchanged between healthcare systems.
To be considered for admission into the MS program in health informatics, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:
Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college.
Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
Submit two letters of recommendation from individuals who are able to assess the applicant’s potential for success in the program.
Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 88 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.
Applicants from international universities are required to submit GRE scores.
It is recommended that applicants have a minimum of three years of experience in a health care, health-related, or information technology organization. Applicants who do not meet this requirement may be asked to complete certain undergraduate/graduate level courses as a prerequisite.
An interview with the program’s admissions committee may also be required.
Please note: Applications should be submitted for fall admission. For priority consideration, please submit all application materials a minimum of six weeks prior to your intended start date.
Certain countries are subject to comprehensive embargoes under US Export Controls, which prohibit virtually ALL exports, imports, and other transactions without a license or other US Government authorization. Learners from Syria, Sudan, North Korea, the Crimea region of the Ukraine, Iran, and Cuba may not register for RIT online courses. Nor may individuals on the United States Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the United States Commerce Department’s table of Deny Orders. By registering for RIT online courses, you represent and warrant that you are not located in, under the control of, or a national or resident of any such country or on any such list.
It is expected that prospective students who plan to pursue the analyst track will have a background in fundamental information technology concepts including object-oriented programming and statistics. Students without the necessary background should complete the prerequisites before applying to the program. However, bridge courses are available to satisfy the prerequisites.
Students whose undergraduate preparation or employment experience does not satisfy the prerequisites can make up these deficiencies by completing prerequisite bridge courses as prescribed by the graduate program director. The bridge courses are not part of the 30 semester credit hours required for the master’s degree. Grades for bridge courses are not included in a student’s GPA if the courses are taken before matriculation; they are included if completed after matriculation. Since bridge programs can be designed in a variety of ways, the graduate program director will assist students in planning and course selection.
Maximum time limit
University policy requires that graduate programs be completed within seven years of the student's initial registration for courses in the program. Bridge courses are excluded.