Master of Science in Health Informatics Research Track
The faculty in the BHIS department invites health informatics MS students to think about conducting health informatics research in the health care industry.
Why should I choose the research track option?
As more and more healthcare organizations successfully implement electronic health records over the next few years, there will be greater opportunities for skilled professionals to advance in data mining and analysis, quality improvement, performance measurement, and outcomes research roles. The government and reimbursement mechanisms are moving toward requiring greater proof that better outcomes are truly achieved through the delivery of care in a particular institution. Data will provide the answers, but only with a high level of technology use could analysis be done to prove better outcomes do indeed exist, to document the improved management of various disease states, and to answer the questions that will arise from executives and clinicians both inside and outside the healthcare organization.
While the industry today is focusing on increasing the numbers of systems in use to meet the goals and targets established for the next few years, there is general agreement that later in this decade the focus will shift to using the data collected in these systems for analysis and research purposes. Building one’s research skills today will most certainly be a job requirement in the future as the industry moves toward the greater use of the available data to improve population and societal health.
If a student has desire to pursue a future PhD degree in this or in a related field, having a research project and a successful defense as part of one’s master degree could be very helpful. The problem solving skills developed during the completion of a research project provide the foundation for higher level scientific inquiry and decision making later in one’s career.
Research track at UIC
Health Informatics research at UIC includes the development of theories, methods, and processes to create, accumulate, recover, and apply data to solve patient care delivery problems or to answer patient care questions. The BHIS department faculty is focused on developing new knowledge that will be published and reviewed in the literature. Health informatics recognizes all people will ultimately use the information developed by health systems, and a number of social and behavioral concepts will apply to the design and evolution of these systems. As such, research opportunities could focus on social and behavioral principles, data and systems security and privacy, systems utility, as well as other interests identified by the student. Backgrounds in statistics and probability, data documentation, data mining, technical underpinnings of systems, simulation, and other scientific principles are critical to success as a researcher.
By completing a research project as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the MS degree, students have the opportunity to apply their professional understanding of the health informatics discipline to analyze a healthcare or clinically -related problem and to produce a solution. Students will defend the underlying principles that form the foundation reasoning and justify the methodology utilized to develop and analyze their results. Research students will work collaboratively with faculty and other professionals or partners to assess research methods, refine project designs, and validate data to achieve an optimal outcome. It is within this environment that students develop approaches to resolve health informatics problems related to systems, people, society, and technology.
Q. How will research students be matched to a mentor?
A. A student can identify a research advisor, or BHIS faculty will match a student with an advisor who is knowledgeable on the chosen research topic.
Q. What is the process for developing a student’s research topic?
A. When deciding on a research topic, a student should determine the answers to the following questions,
What interests you?
Which topic would you like to be an expert?
Where is there a need for research within the industry?
Q. What are some examples of the research they will be doing?
A. Former research students have conducted research on the following topics:
“The Use of Bar Coding in Patient Safety”
“Survey Users Skills to Identify Super Users”
“Building an Outsourcing Business”
Q. Why is there a variance in the number of credits between the project research and the thesis research?
A. A thesis project will have multiple levels of analysis of several variables which will result in a more extensive research project that, in many cases, can be used towards the development of the PhD dissertation. Project research, while substantial in its own right, will involve less levels of analysis of one or two variables on a particular topic.
Q. When and how many times will students need to be on campus?
A. A research student will need to visit campus for research committee meetings and project defense.. The anticipated number of committee meetings during a research project is three-four. Thesis projects may be more involved and may require additional meetings, though some of these may be completed through video-real-time technology.
Q. What background makes a good research candidate?
A. A good research candidate will be processed oriented, a good writer, possess good communication and presentation skills, and exhibit the ability to defend their research position.
Q. When should a student apply?
A. A student should express his/her desire to pursue project research once they have completed at least 16 hours in the MS program. Students should express their interest to their student advisor who will notify the program director. The advisor will discuss the research requirements and work with the student to continue with the application process which may lead to the faculty accepting the student into the MS research option.
This program does not lead to certification or licensure.