How Technology Can Improve Patient Care

Health informatics instructor, industry leader Melanie Meyer talks data, performance improvement

My dad was recently in the hospital due to complications of Crohn's Disease. He has different specialists—including his primary care physician—all of whom work for the same care organization. But when he went into urgent care one night, the on-call physician couldn't pull up my dad's medical background, including the most recent gastroenterologist notes.

Photo of Melanie Meyer

One system couldn't talk to another. Or the information that was available hadn't been inputted correctly. What ended up being a multi-day visit to the ER could have been less than 12 hours—if the on-call physician had all of the information necessary to provide comprehensive, cost-effective and efficient care.

That's where health informatics professionals like Melanie Meyer come in.

Since 2005, Melanie's professional mission is to guide health care organizations on better utilizing technology and data to deliver higher-quality care at a lower cost. She’s done this through a variety of health informatics roles at organizations such as

  • Stanford
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Dignity Health
  • UCLA Health
  • Sutter Health
  • EVOSCALE Health
  • Gartner

In each role, Melanie focused on optimizing the use of electronic health records, analytics and revenue-cycle streams. Most recently, she has put a special focus on population health.

"Given the shift to value-based care, many organizations are focused on implementing systems to achieve their value goals and improve performance," Melanie says. "To do this work requires a good understanding of health information and how it can be used most effectively. Value-based care requires integration of clinical and financial information systems with improved business operational processes—often across the continuum of care."

Oh, and did I mention that she's also the lead instructor in our brand-new, innovative, online-only Health Informatics program? Melanie is an innovator in this high-demand field and brings her years of in-depth knowledge to each class.



The broad-base use of electronic health records and data availability is driving change.


What drew you to working in health informatics?

It presents an opportunity to have an impact on health care. The broad-base use of electronic health records and data availability is driving change. In my case, the work has allowed me to leverage my background and experience in technology and operational roles to help health care organizations improve performance and care experience.

What is happening in health care that is really driving the need for professionals who either specialize in health informatics or who have a working knowledge in the field?

The rapidly changing health care environment offers many new opportunities in health informatics, but it also requires workers to continue to build skills over time as industry and organizational needs and focus change.

Health care organizations are seeking to address three critical needs:

  1. Need to innovate—specifically in response to rapid changes in health policy, payment models and new partnerships—but also to improve quality and performance. Additional reading: NEJM Catalyst and The Commonwealth Fund
  2. Need to improve patient experience. Patients have more choices today as to where they receive care. The newly insured seek services in different ways. Additional reading: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Hospitals and Health Networks
  3. Need to better utilize analytics. There are new forms of data such as social determinants and new ways to use that data, such as AI or machine learning. Additional reading: Forbes.

These critical needs align with the U.S. National Quality Strategy: Using health information technology is one of the levers to meet quality goals. Those with health informatics skills can help organizations address these areas.



The program fills a market need here in the Bay Area as there are no other comparable programs, but because it is online, anyone, anywhere can enroll.


Why do you think there is a need for a specific program for health informatics?

The UC Berkeley Extension Health Informatics program is targeted toward working professionals who want to gain domain knowledge and practical experience in the health informatics field.

The program provides an introduction to health informatics and addresses core topics such as EHR systems and interoperability, as well as hot topics such as population health informatics and health information exchange.

The program fills a market need here in the Bay Area as there are no other comparable programs, but because it is online, anyone, anywhere can enroll.

Finally, there continues to be health care job growth. Many of these positions require health informatics skills—now often required to do health care work. For example, Modern Healthcare expects to see 4 million jobs created in the health care industry by 2026. A Becker’s Hospital Review article reported 21,000 health care jobs added in January.

Additionally, a recent survey by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) outlines some of the health informatics workforce hiring trends, including top project areas.

You'll be teaching all of the health informatics classes. Can you give us a glimpse into what topics you’ll be teaching, your teaching style, bringing in your experience to guide the curriculum?

The health informatics courses introduce students to the concepts and practices of health informatics from both a clinical and financial perspective, as well as the role of an informaticist. Topics include systems used for patient care and the systems used to share and analyze health information. I’ll also cover new and emerging trends in the health informatics field.

The classes are interactive so that students can engage and share ideas. There is also a focus on "learning by doing": Students will have opportunities to complete real-world projects and hands-on activities. The idea is to blend course information with student needs and interests.

I certainly plan to utilize my experience in teaching through examples, both my own and by sharing what others are doing in the industry.



As EHRs become standard across hospitals and other health care facilities, there is a need for folks who can optimize their use and improve performance.


What types of jobs do you think students who complete the program will be qualified to apply for?

It's important to consider each student's background, experience and and interests because there is a wide range of health informatics positions.

Implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has driven the need for health informatics roles. As EHRs become standard across hospitals and other health care facilities, there is a need for folks who can optimize their use and improve performance.

Additionally, health information technology is increasingly being implemented across a wide range of care settings, presenting additional opportunities. For example, informatics skills are now foundational to many health care positions; they have gone "mainstream." In a recent search on, I found:

"Informatics" in job title search: 172 new jobs

"informatics" in job description search: 1,192 listings

"EHR" in job description: 1,858

"health information systems": 10,891

If you could future-cast the state of health informatics 5 years from now, what do you think the industry will look like?

Things are changing rapidly in the health care industry, which presents challenges and opportunity.


  1. Connected Care. Across the care continuum, health information needs to flow more freely. Progress is being made based on new standards and programs. Improved interoperability should help make Comprehensive Shared Care Plans (CSCPs) a reality; CSCPs enable collaboration and better care coordination, a prerequisite for the new care models being developed today.
  2. Big Data Analytics. More data is available today that can be used to drive better care quality. Analytics need to be integrated into workflows to drive real-time decision making. New applications as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) can derive meaningful and actionable data from a variety of data sources. Clinical decision support (CDS) at the point of care using real-time data and analytics will enable clinicians to make more informed decisions.
  3. Personalized care requires new sources of data from areas such as genetics and genomics, as well as patient-generated data to tailor care to a particular patient. Lots of opportunity in health informatics to drive this change.

The field is ripe for those who have the skills and knowledge of health informatics—both in today;'s health care system and in what the future holds. There will be no shortage of qualified professionals to support the drive toward value-based care. Start your change or advancement in this field with the Introduction to Health Informatics course!