How to Become a Pharmaceutical Informaticist
What is pharmaceutical informatics?
Pharmaceutical informatics is taking on increasing importance in a healthcare industry that keeps producing, and looking for, new pharmacological treatments for diseases and disorders that strike the patients who serve as the consumers of healthcare services. Pharmaceutical informatics schools train professionals who use information systems and tools to make the prescription and administration of drugs safer and more efficient, as well as to help medical practitioners determine which treatment from a range of possible drugs is the optimal choice for a particular patient. Health information administrators who specialize in pharmaceutical informatics help reduce prescription errors and detect potential adverse drug reactions and interactions. They provide support in the decision making process that leads to the formulation of treatment plans, track medication compliance, and evaluate drug treatment outcomes. In the corporate setting, they play a vital role in developing new drugs, designing drug trials, and evaluating the results of pharmacological research.
What is involved in becoming a professional in the field of pharmaceutical informatics?
Becoming a pharmaceutical informaticist requires a graduate degree in health informatics or, preferably, a specialized degree in pharmaceutical informatics from a pharmaceutical informatics school or graduate department. Pharmaceutical informatics schools and programs can be found at large universities, schools of pharmacy or pharmacology, medical schools, and medical research institutions. Excelling as a pharmaceutical informaticist requires not only a thorough background in and understanding of pharmacology and the medical effects of drugs on the body, but also an expertise in computer technology and information science and a facility with statistics and other data analysis tools.
Many health information administrators who work in the field of pharmaceutical informatics find jobs at pharmacies or at hospitals and other medical facilities where they play a vital role in drug treatment management and monitoring, treatment planning and related decision making, and insurance billing. The goal of the pharmaceutical informaticist who works in a clinical setting is to make sure patients receive optimal drug treatments tailored to their condition, medical history, and personal situation. By providing access to and analyzing important patient data, pharmaceutical informaticists also play a major role in ensuring patient safety by preventing the administration of drugs that could cause potentially deadly allergic reactions or interactions with other medications.
Pharmaceutical informaticists are also highly in demand in corporate research settings within pharmaceutical and medical research companies. Health information administrators who work for pharmaceutical companies help design and develop new drugs and run and monitor drug trials and other research into the efficacy and safety of proposed new pharmacological treatments. They participate in everything from determining proper dosages; providing information to be included in patient inserts; compiling data to be used in the context of doctor and patient education; outreach and marketing; and determining what binders and fillers to include in pills and capsules prior to mass production.
What kind of salary do pharmaceutical informaticists make?
Pharmaceutical informatics is a growing field, and health information administrators who specialize in this field are in great demand. Thus, pharmaceutical informaticists are well compensated professionals. While entry-level pharmaceutical informaticists may make salaries that hover around $50,000 a year, those in managerial positions consistently make well over $100,000 annually. The average salary nationwide for a pharmaceutical informaticist in a high-level managerial position is $142,000 a year. Actual salaries may vary based on location, experience, education, skill level, and the type of facility worked in. Pharmaceutical informaticists who work in corporate research and development departments generally make significantly more than their counterparts who work in healthcare facilities or governmental agencies and research facilities.