Why I am pursuing a master’s degree in health informatics

The application period for KI’s programs opened around two weeks ago and this has made me think about my reasons for applying last year. I want to share them with you in this post.

My decision to pursue a master’s degree in health informatics was shaped by my work experience and my desire to deepen my knowledge in health informatics.

I think that a master’s degree in health informatics will put me in a better position in terms of my career in the future. My foray into this field started when I started working as a Municipal Health Officer in the Philippines under the Doctors to the Barrios Program of the Department of Health. My work consisted of giving clinical services, managing the Municipal Health Office and taking charge of local implementation of national and local public health programs. Doing all these required keeping track of vast amount of data and in no way was this easy with manual recording system that we had back then. So, I decided to ask for help from my university, which pioneered the use if electronic medical records and health information systems in my country called Community Health Information Tracking System or CHITS.

As medical students we were taught how to use CHITS during our clinical rotation in family and community medicine. It made medical records keeping faster, easier and more efficient. This experience exposed me to the benefits of using information and communications (ICT) technology in health care and led me to try it out in the community I was working with. So, a little over  a year into the job as a Municipal Health Officer and we were ready to implement CHITS at our clinic in an island community called Loreto, Dinagat Islands with the help of the University of the Philippines Manila National Telehealth Center (UPM-NTHC). There were bumps along the way but they were sorted out eventually and in no time rural health midwives who never had any experience working with computers were using them as part of their daily work. The patients appreciated the reduction in waiting time and the ease with which their records could be retrieved. CHITS made consolidating reports faster. And yes it made my work easier.

I finished my contract with the Department of Health and started working at the UPM-NTHC as a research associate then University Researcher II and Project Manager of eHealth projects funded by research grants from the government and UN agencies along the lines of mobile health (mHealth) and health information system. The different roles, responsibilities and tasks I was assigned deepened my understanding of health informatics. It exposed me to diverse topics such as ICT for health and development, public health informatics, clinical decision support systems, mHealth, telemedicine, among other things. As I got deeper into them I realized how little I know and how much I wanted to know about health informatics.

I looked for programs online and found out about KI’s program in health informatics. In weighing my decision to apply I considered the knowledge and skills that I would acquire and I thought that KI was a good fit – the courses of study have a right balance between technical skills acquisition and application of ICT in health care. I applied and now I am here two months into the Joint Master’s Programme in Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet.

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