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What Is Healthcare Informatics?

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  • Written By: John B Landers
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Healthcare informatics combines the fields of information technology and health to develop the systems required to administer the expansion of information, advance clinical work flow, and improve the security of the healthcare system. It involves the integration of information science, computer technology, and medicine to collect, organize, and secure information systems and health–related data. The extraordinary explosion of medical knowledge, technologies, and ground-breaking drugs may vastly improve healthcare delivery to consumers, and keeping the information related to these advancements organized and accessible is key.

Computer hardware, specialized software, and communication devices are used together to form complex computer networks to collect, analyze, and transmit medical processes. The tools for creating health information systems are not limited just to information technology. These systems should also allow for the assimilation of clinical directives, understanding of formal medical jargon, storage of data, and transmission of clear communication. Medical informatics can be applied in all types of health environments, including primary care, general practice, hospital care, and rehabilitation. It is also inclusive of many of the specialties within the healthcare field.

Information systems may used to create greater operating efficiencies in three basic functions of healthcare: clinical, administrative, and financial. For example, healthcare informatics is pivotal in the movement to cut costs and enhance patient care by implementing a standardized system for electronic medical records. It is also a key to expanding the development health information systems for billing, clinical research, client scheduling, and the exchange of medical information.

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Medical professionals can avail themselves of the growing knowledge base and make better decisions bolstered by computer software called clinical decision support systems (CDSS). Other computer systems, called electronic prescribing systems, eliminate the need for hand-written prescriptions and minimize errors. Informatics also allow for data mining to determine the effectiveness of drugs, which may reduce the cost of treatments, lessen mistakes, and help further advancements in the quality of care.

One of the major objectives of healthcare informatics is to formulate a standard approach for healthcare internationally. The idea is for researchers, providers, and patients to benefit from the informatics tools, techniques, concepts, and protocols that transform healthcare delivery, and to promote best practices in the healthcare field. As a result of evolving and complex legal issues related to information technology and health-related fields, informatics is also important in health law as it relates to ethical, operational, and privacy concerns.

Many experts agree that one of the field's main challenges is to get medical providers committed to the widespread implementation of the various information technology components. Healthcare informatics may not only create a seamless and comprehensive healthcare system, but can assist industry professionals to solve problems, make decisions, and provide better customer service. It may help professionals process multiple functions that will enable them to perform their duties more effectively and efficiently.

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Discuss this Article

anon334921
Post 6

If I were to get a certificate in Healthcare Informatics with also having a BS in Business Management and an MBA but no experience tied to the healthcare industry would I be able to find a job? Would I be competitive?

anon166679
Post 5

Is the health care program called MDS 3.0 and RAPS considered health care informatics, it is for medical reimbursement, in the nursing home setting, all clinicians involved in resident care planning and assessments are involved with this? I have an A.S. degree in information systems administration. Can this be added or adjusted? --llc

turquoise
Post 3

@anamur-- Since its a growing field and there is a high demand for specialists, its a great career choice. My friend is a medical informatics specialist. She was first considering information technology but she had family members in the medical field, so she opted for this instead and she loves her job. She tells me that there is many opportunities and many schools have degrees and masters programs on it. You can get a healthcare informatics certificate or apply for a degree.

serenesurface
Post 2

How is healthcare informatics as a career field?

discographer
Post 1

I'm all for healthcare informatics. Before these systems came out, every time I visited the doctor, I had to repeat my health history as well as family history, medications I was taking, surgeries, treatments, allergies...phew! If you were following up on a treatment, you had to repeat everything that happened from the very beginning. It's only natural for nurses and doctors not to remember every detail about their patients. I'm so glad that health information technology have resolved these issues. Now, they just go into the system, see the whole history, see my treatments and prescriptions. It's so easy to follow up on a condition, fantastic!

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