One rapidly growing career in healthcare, doesn’t involve direct patient care; but, is critical to the quality of care the patient receives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health informatics careers are expanding at a rapid 15% per year, much faster than other careers nationwide; and, salaries for this career range from $80,160 on the low end to $187,000, annually.

Unlike other information and data management, Health Informatics requires a particular sensitivity to accuracy, timeliness and privacy. The federal government, in 1996, mandated, with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that patient records be secured and maintain patient privacy. Violations of these regulations can result in quite substantial fines.

Colleges and universities offer educational programs ranging from associate degrees, bachelors and (master degrees in healthcare informatics, with most offering online opportunities. It’s important to be certain the school or program you choose is accredited. A majority of health informatics programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Paying for College

Yes, college can be expensive; but, the long term financial rewards are well worth it. So, don’t panic! There are options available to help you finance your education.

Federal Student Aid

The U.S. government has long provided financial assistance to college students. There are various forms of financial aid for students including grants, scholarships and student loans. Be certain to check with the schools you’re considering to see what assistance may be available. Additional information may be found on the Department of Education website Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Veterans, Spouses and Dependents

Schools may offer reduced tuition rates for active military personnel, spouses and dependents. There are many schools which also offers tuition reduction benefits for veterans.

Employee Tuition Assistance

Employers may offer tuition assistance as an employee benefit for their employees. Check with your Human Resource department to see if your employer offers such a program and what you need to do to qualify.

Using information from U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review and Bureau of Labor Statistics, Best Medical Degrees has developed a list of ten of the cheapest, online Healthcare Informatics bachelors degrees offered online from accredited schools.

1. Western Governors University

Western Governors University was started in 1995 by 19 governors wanting to provide inexpensive, quality education for students seeking careers in healthcare, business, education and information technology. Accredited by various associations, including the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The Healthcare Informatics Bachelor degree is available completely online.

Western Governors University has a unique tuition structure where there is a flat $6000 fee per academic year. (NOTE: There is a scholarship opportunity currently available. Applications are due by September 30, 2016). Coursework includes studies in medical terminology, network and security, health sciences, health information technology, healthcare data, etc. A capstone project (implementing studies in addressing a real-world problem) is required. The average length of time to complete this degree is approximately two years. More information is available at Western Governors University.

Length of Program: 120 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $100.00 (Two Years Total $12,000)

2. Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Montana Tech began in 1900 with the unusual name of Montana State School of Mines and originally offering only two degrees, electrical engineering and mining engineering. In 1994, the school affiliated with the University of Montana. Today, the school offers over 60 degrees, including a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Informatics.

Offered online, this degree examines Anatomy and Physiology, Health System Foundations, Healthcare Informatics Fundamentals, Information Technology Information as well as Business and Organizational Management. Montana Tech is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and has been named one of the Best Western Colleges by Princeton Review and #5 by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Regional Colleges. Find more information at Montana Tech of the University of Montana.

Length of Program: 120 Credit Hours
Estimated Cost of Tuition Per Credit Hour: $226.45

3. University of Maryland University College

Established in 1947, to provide evening educational opportunities for adults as the College of Special and Continuation Studies, the college became an independent institution and member of the University System of Maryland. Long a leader in distance learning, The University of Maryland University College has been the recipient of five Sloan Consortium Excellence Awards for its distance learning programs. In 2015, this online program had more than 248,000 nationally and internationally enrolled students. The Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Informatics Management (HIM) program is accredited by CAHIIM.

Core studies include work in Introduction to Health Care, Information Technology Foundations, Research Methods for Health Care Managers, Foundations of Information Security and Assurance, Health Data Management, Financial Management for Health Care Organizations, etc. The school offers a tuition discount for military personnel. Further details are at University of Maryland University College.

Length of Program: 36 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $258.00 (Maryland Resident); $499.00 (Non-Resident)

4. Rasmussen College

In 1900, Rasmussen College opened in St. Paul, Minnesota offering secretarial and accounting education, as the Rasmussen Practical School of Business. Today, the college enrolls over 14,000 students and has campuses in six states as well an active, distance education presence. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and its undergraduate degree in Health Informatics is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

The Bachelor of Science degree encompasses general education studies in humanities, English, sociology, etc.; and, core coursework covering courses in coding, management of healthcare systems, strategic planning, healthcare law, information communication, etc. Completion of the B.S. in Health Information Management includes two practice experiences in theory application and understanding. Rasmussen College offers more information on this program on its website.

Length of Program: 180 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $260.00

5. University of Mississippi Medical Center

Located in the state capitol of Jackson, Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is the only academic health science center. The Medical Center originally opened in 1903 as a two-year medical school and in 1955, due to legislative action, became a four-year medical school. Today, the UMMC includes six health science schools in medicine, dentistry, nursing, healthcare professions, graduate studies and pharmacy.

There are two online Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics and Information Management. One, the Progression track, is designed for students currently holding a RHIT credential of the American Health Information Management Association. The second, the Traditional track is a Bachelor of Science, requires general education studies in the humanities, English, basic computer concepts and applications for the first two years. The junior and senior years concentrates on database applications in healthcare, health information across a healthcare setting, advanced privacy and legal issues, etc. The program is CAHIIM accredited. Find more information here University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Length of Program: 120 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost per Credit Hour: $306 (Mississippi Resident); $857.25 (Non-Resident)

6. Colorado Technical University

Established in 1965, Colorado Technical University has a robust online educational program recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best Online Programs available. CTU provides a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredited, online Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Management with a concentration in healthcare informatics.

Core concentration courses include, but are not limited to, an introduction to healthcare informatics, security of electronic health information, as well as a capstone project to integrate what the student has learned and apply it to a realistic healthcare problem. You can find additional information at Colorado Technical University.

Length of Program:  180 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $325.00

7. University of Cincinnati

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the University of Cincinnati was founded in 1819 and lays claim to being one of the oldest higher education institutions outside of the original 12 colonies. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been ranked among the Top 200 Public Universities by U.S. News and World Report, rated the Best in the Midwest by the Princeton Review and ranked #62 by Money Magazine in the top 100 “Elite Values.”

Offered 100% online, this Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics degree is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and prepares students to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator exam. The degree can be completed in as few as six semesters, depending on the number of credits carried. Details are available at University of Cincinnati.

Length of Program: 60 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $450.00 (Ohio Residents); $465.00 (Non Resident)

8. University of Saint Mary

The University of Saint Mary is located in Leavenworth, Kansas has been ranked by Princeton as a Best Midwestern University since 2005. Founded in 1923 by the Sisters of Charity, this small, private institution has also been ranked by U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 Best Colleges ranking. The school offers a CAHIIM accredited bachelors degree in Health Information Management.

The coursework is designed to train students in the handling and maintenance of confidential patient information, achieve compliance of the Electronic Health Records regulations and train the student in organizational and team leadership as well as strive to improve patient care quality. Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management will offer details on the program.

Length of Program: 128 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $460.00

9. Franklin University

A private school located in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin University was established in 1902 and held its first classes in the YMCA of Columbus. Fast forward 100 years, and Franklin University now has five locations and two international affiliated programs. The school is HLC accredited and offers a BS in Healthcare Information Management (HIM). More information is located at it’s HIM degree page.

Students are required to study general core courses as well as upperclass study in health information, health information systems, applications in health information systems, healthcare financial management as well as courses in medical terminology. The program has been rated a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine.

Length of Program: 128 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $511.00

10. Herzing University

This Wisconsin school started in 1965 as a computer training institute in Milwaukee; and, now has campuses in eight states and a strong online education program. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, CAHIIM and has been ranked #79 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelors Degree Programs.

Successful students will be able to manage healthcare record data systems, develop and manage patient healthcare privacy policies and implement state and federal patient privacy regulations. The school offers tuition discounts for students who take 15 or more credit hours per semester. Details on tuition and admission may be located at Herzing University.

Length of Program: 124 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit: $550.00

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