What Is Health Informatics?

Health InformaticsThe discipline of Health Informatics combines the different, yet interconnected, factors of information science, social science, health care, and behavioral science. These factors must be accounted for and made to function together in harmony at healthcare institutions and in health sciences. Health Informatics confronts, analyzes, and optimizes the use of the resources, methods, and devices that are used in health and biomedicine to retrieve, store, utilize, and organize information, according to the University of South Florida. The tools available to those who work in the world of health informatics include medical terminologies, information systems, communicaton systems, and computers. Health informatics is present in many different realms of healthcare, including nursing, dentistry, pharmacies, public health, physical therapy, and more.

Different Types of Health Informatics

The field of Health Informatics itself can be broken down into a number of different subfields that all encompass different facets of the responsibilities and needs brought about by the concept of Health Informatics. Below are a few of the major subdomains of Health Informatics:

  • Clinical Informatics – Clinical Informatics and informatics procedures and concepts as they relate to clinicians, or healthcare professionals who work directly with patients. Those who function as Clinical Informaticians must work with information and systems of communication to optimize health care by analyzing and evaluating clinical processes.
  • Bioinformatics – The area of Bioinformatics has developed along with increasing knowledge in gene sequencing, biostatistics, and genome-wide association studies. Bioinformatics relates to personalized medicine, or factoring a patient’s specific genes into determining proper treatment.
  • Computational Health Informatics – This is a computer science branch that addresses how computational methods relate to providing health care. A professional working in Computational Health Informatics will lean more on technical knowledge of computational concepts rather than healthcare knowledge.
  • Clinical Research Informatics – Health Informatics play an important role in clinical research. Clinical research must involve carefully tracking extensive collections of data, so computer systems must be devised to organize and maintain this data.

Competencies of Those Who Specialize in Health Informatics

A health Informatician needs to have a very extensive understanding of diverse aspects of healthcare, especially where healthcare involves managing large volume of data. In addition to understanding delivery policies and systems at healthcare institutions, Health Informaticians must also be able to implement practical methods for dealing with data directly on an everyday basis. Health Informaticians need to be able to recognize possible trends in data and interpret the significance of large collections of data. Useful skills for those who work in Health Informatics include organization, critical thinking skills, technical computer skills, and an understanding of cultural and social issues relevant to health care.

Related Resource: Master’s in Software Engineering

Health Informatics is a great area of professional interest for those who are interested in computer programming and technical disciplines, but who also would like to contribute to the world of health care. Working in Health Informatics, professionals can make practical improvements to both the effectiveness and the confidentiality of health care, and the are likely to notice great growth in job opportunity considering the increasing interest and concern for confidentiality in light of legal precedents such as HIPAA.