Douglas College launches Canada’s first Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management

Professionals in health information management (HIM) form the unseen spine of Canadian medicine and health care. Despite their necessity, there just aren’t enough trained HIM experts to fulfil the demands of our strained health care system. And while information managers in the field currently bring valuable skills to the table, many of them only hold one part of the puzzle. There’s been no one place in Canada to learn the complete mix of knowledge and skills and ground it in the health industry. 

That’s why Douglas College is leading on filling the gap with the new Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management (BSc-HIM). This program provides the practical skills and experience needed to step up to the plate – whether you’ve already got experience in the sector or your passion for HIM is newfound. 

“Introduce me to HIM” 

Health information management is a line of work that focuses on gathering, analyzing, securing and sharing health-related data. To accomplish this, HIM professionals leverage a unique cocktail of skills – data analysis, project management, IT know-how and much more. The information they collect and analyze helps guide critical health care decisions made across the industry. This includes everything from nurses triaging in the ER to health authority leaders signing off on the latest best practices. 

If you work in health information management, you’re part of a process that influences health care at every level. You’re showing leaders in government and health the facts that decide our hospitals’ policies and where we allocate tax dollars. You’re informing evolving best practices across hospitals while streamlining the flow of information needed by primary care teams. Most importantly, you’re helping patients get the fastest, most comprehensive care possible.  

According to Dr. Patricia Visosky, coordinator for the Health Information Management department at Douglas and Vice-Chair of the Canadian Health Information Management Association, there’s not one decision about health care in Canada that gets made without insights provided by the HIM industry. Those insights blossom from the individual level upward, patient by patient. 

“To build that essential body of information, there are things we need to know about every person seeking care. Their experience in treatment matters,” Dr. Visosky says. “But we miss chances to do better whenever we can’t capture that data or use it effectively.” 

Right now, we don’t have enough trained HIM experts in Canada to meet the demands of the modern healthcare system. That exacerbates many if not all of the hot-button issues in health right now. Think about unacceptable wait times, a lack of nurses and doctors, hamstrung communication between care providers and more. But more health information managers means more capacity to investigate the best ways to support our frontline health care workers.  

More than that, HIM professionals drive the innovations that lead to a simpler, less barrier-fraught experience for future patients. One major example is the way institutions transfer patient information, orders for medical tests, and more. There are historic cases where messages and requests have been missed, contributing to a real cost in human life. A famous Canadian example is the Greg Price case of 2012. A man lost his life to testicular cancer, partially because faxed referral documents and other information went missing in transit, delaying his diagnosis.  

Dr. Visosky says the technology already exists to ensure up-to-date e-health records are readily available to everyone who needs them, including the primary care team, pharmacists, mental health professionals and the patient themselves. However, a bigger population of HIM professionals are necessary to build these systems and implement them across Canada.  

“As soon as we hit ‘enter’ and a patient’s record is saved,” Dr. Visosky says, “whoever else needs it should be able to access it.” 

The Douglas difference 

The BSc–HIM at Douglas College is the first post-secondary program in Canada to train HIM professionals with the depth of a dedicated bachelor’s while also allowing for specializations through multiple pathways. You can choose to concentrate on information intelligence, operations management or the general stream.  

Uniquely, this program offers the chance to do two internships at regional health organizations. There’s also an 180-hour supervised practicum in the health, government or private sector. With this applied learning, you get the hands-on training and mentorship opportunities you need to graduate ready to work. 

With the demand for HIM-trained workers steadily rising, you’ll graduate on track to gain financial stability and further your career. That’s true whether you already work in health information management or are just starting out.  The degree prepares you to start a well-paid job right after you graduate, in hospitals, government, health authorities, or even research and academia. The median salary for B.C. health care managers, for example, is more than $95,000. And over 19,300 jobs in HIM, database analysis, health care management and/or health policy research are projected for B.C. alone in the next 10 years.  

Working in health information management empowers you to get patients in your communities and across the country closer to an ideal standard of care – one dataset at a time.  

Want to explore your options with the Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management? The first intake is September 2023. Interested applicants looking to complete pre-requisites for the degree can enrol in our newly launched Academic Foundations certificate program. Read more. 

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