What is Health Informatics?

Notes from modules 1 and 2 of the Interprofessional Health Informatics course I’m working on (plus side side reading that I did to fill in some blanks/learn more about some things mentioned in the course)

Learning Healthcare System: “a system that learns from data collected at the point of care and applies the data to patient care improvement” 1Institute of Medicine definition, as quoted by the course instructor

Characteristics of a Continuously Learning Health Care System ((From the IOM report):

Science and informatics
  • real-time access to knowledge
  • digital capture of the care experience
Patient-Clinician Relationships
  • engaged, empowered patients
  • incentives aligned for value
  • full transparency
  • leadership-instilled culture of learning
  • supportive system competencies

For the full table with the details, go here.

  • Note that informatics can be intricately involved in creating a “learning health care system”. Obviously, the “real-time access to knowledge” and “digital capture of the care experience” directly involve informatics, but some of the other elements could be enhanced by it as well. For example, providing patient access to their own data electronically could help engage and empower them. As well, having electronic data would allow for “full transparency”. And “supportive system competencies” include things like systems analysis and feedback loops for continuous learning and system improvement – which having electronic data/information/knowledge can greatly assist.

Health Informatics: “a multidisciplinary field that uses health information technology (HIT) to improve health care via any combination of higher quality, higher efficiency (spurring lower cost and thus greater availability), and new opportunities” (Wikipedia)

  • includes many disciplines (e.g., “information science, computer science, social science, behavioural science, management science”, etc.)
  • “deals with the resources, devices, and methods required to optimize the acquisition, storage, retrieval, and use of information in health and biomedicine”  (Wikipedia)
  • a variety of subsets, such as:

A few examples of Informatics Theories:

  • Clinical Information Systems (Blum, 1986):
    • data – individual items made available to the analyst
    • information: a set of data with some interpretation/value added
    • knowledge: a set of rules, formulae, or heuristics used to create information from data and information

Conceptual Framework for Nursing Informatics

Data to Wisdom Continuum

  • an extension of this model includes wisdom –> practice –> healthier communities

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Institute of Medicine definition, as quoted by the course instructor
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