Biomedical and Health Informatics degree option now available

Starting this academic year, Biomedical & Health Informatics (BHI) will be the newest transcriptable degree option within Informatics, joining Data Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Architecture, and Information Assurance and Cybersecurity.

BHI students will learn how to leverage their data, design and development skills to impact biology, medicine, and personal health or wellness. Approved courses explore the unique context of information challenges due to patient privacy regulations, unconscious bias, ethical considerations, and other factors.

While most Informatics students pursue a customized course of study, program chair and Associate Professor Amy Ko notes that students with specialized career goals or plans to pursue graduate study find the transcriptable degree options appealing. “Having an area of focus included on their diploma helps demonstrate interest in and exposure to specific topics and subjects that might give them an edge in a competitive job market or academic admissions process,” she says.

Each of the five Informatics degree options requires the completion of 16-20 credits from an approved list of courses. BHI coursework is taught across the Information School and the Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education (BIME) department of UW Medicine. BIME 300: Transformational Technologies for Biology, Medicine, and Health is the foundational course for the BHI option, which provides an overview of biomedical informatics as well as hands-on projects that expose students to the health data science aspects of the field. Students pursuing the BHI option must take 11-15 credits of BHI electives in addition to BIME 300.

iSchool Professor Wanda Pratt is teaching a BHI elective, Designing for Personal Health and Wellness, this winter quarter. “The field of biomedical health Informatics is growing rapidly,” notes Pratt. “Adding the BHI option helps the UW respond to both student and industry demands for more Informatics coursework related to health, well-being and the medical field.”

BHI graduates may seek to advance the science of DNA sequencing, genomics; impact individual, community and population health; or design, improve and develop personal technologies for health and wellness.

The addition of the BHI degree option reflects the Information School’s growing focus on health and well-being. Pratt, who also has an adjunct appointment with BIME, is one of the iSchool’s leading researchers impacting this field of study. This fall, Pratt and her research partners won $2.8 million from the National Library of Medicine to study bias in patient-doctor communication.

Interested undergraduate students are able to contribute to her research group, iMed, which focuses on understanding people’s health information needs and designing new technologies to address those needs.

Current Informatics students can declare a BHI degree option at any time, but it is recommended that they file the necessary change-of-major forms two quarters prior to graduation, or sooner. Students who aim to meet the degree option requirements by June 2020 and have already applied for graduation should make an appointment with their advisor.

Explore details and approved coursework for all five Informatics degree options, including Biomedical & Heath Informatics, online.