Health informatics is the science behind information technology in the healthcare field. It relates to how IT functions, and is concerned with the storage, retrieval and overall availability of healthcare-related information, that medical professionals may collaborate more efficiently in seeing to the needs of their patients. Within this rapidly expanding professional discipline are many different areas of underlying research, which serve to expand the role of digital-age technology in modern medical care.
Here are five different areas of research for students involved in the field:
Researchers working in biostatistics are constantly working to advance our medical understanding of how human biological processes work, for the sake of developing interactive digital representations of the human anatomy. Formerly concerned primarily with the fashioning of physical, three-dimensional representations of human systems, biostatistics now has a solid foothold in the information age. Biostatistics involves not only a thorough understanding of human anatomy, but also the efficiency and accuracy of any modeling software being used.
Clinical informatics is a field within the larger discipline of health informatics. It is significantly concerned with the application of information technology in a long-term care setting, and on the translation of vital patient statistics between short-term and long-term care facilities. One of the many applications of this particular field is the development of new monitoring systems for adverse reactions to drugs and medications, as many long-term care patients are unaware of a variety of common medicines to which they might be sensitive.
This area of health informatics is closely associated with biostatistics. It involves the use of computer modeling in a predictive fashion. Predictive modeling can be used to diagnose health conditions in a clinical environment, and to recognize common problems related to known drug interactions, prior health conditions, and past injuries or illnesses. Predictive modeling is often used in clinical care, in order to help reduce the frequency of adverse medical complications and harmful drug interactions.
This field involves more than the recall and application of patient information, it is also concerned with data storage. An efficient, organized and secure means of storing medical data is absolutely vital. Not only is the potential for abuse of unsecured patient information considerable, but improperly stored and indexed information makes it harder for medical professionals (including other researchers) to do their jobs. Medical data warehousing is concerned with finding better ways to store information, and faster ways to locate exactly that information which is pertinent to a given individual or situation.
Human Computer Interaction
No matter how skilled a diagnostician may be, their abilities are dramatically enhanced with the assistance of digital diagnostics and information technology resources. With the aid of a computer, a physician can make more accurate diagnoses, drawing from a much broader range of information than that to which he or she would otherwise have access. Human Computer Interaction, or HCI, concerns itself with the development of more efficient and intuitive user interfaces, allowing medical professionals to access relevant information more quickly than they otherwise might.
As the information age continues to advance, the role of health informatics in modern medicine is only going to expand. Find out more about what this rapidly growing field consists of, how it differs from information technology, and what kinds of careers are available for an individual with a related graduate program certificate or degree.