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What is Health Informatics?

Health Informatics is the appropriate and innovative application of the concepts and technologies of the information age to improve health care and health. With the evolution of the field, health informatics is probably best defined in the context of e-health, which is generally accepted as an umbrella term composed of 2 elements[1]:

1. health informatics (related to the collection, analysis and movement of health information and data to support health care), and

2. telehealth (related to direct e.g. videoconferencing or indirect e.g. website delivery of health information or health care to a recipient.) 

The area of e-health encompasses products, systems and services, including tools for health authorities and professionals as well as personalised health systems for patients and citizens [2]. The scope of e-health includes bench-top to bedside to population health activities, which present complex information management challenges to support individualised patient care.

Health Informatics has also been defined by WHO as “an umbrella term used to encompass the rapidly evolving discipline of using computing, networking and communications – methodology and technology – to support the health related fields, such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry” [3].

To answer any further questions about health informatics, go to www.achi.org.au/informatics/faq.html

References

1. Wang X , Turner L, Scott RE - Technology solutions – saving the day? 6th Annual Can Soc of Telehealth Conference, Halifax. Nova Scotia 5-7 Oct 2003   

2. 2. European Commission - eHealth - making healthcare better for European citizens: an action plan for a European eHealth area, 2004  (http: europa.eu.int/eur-lex/pri/en/dpi/cnc/doc/2004/com2004_0356en01.doc)

3. Al-Shorbaji, N Health and Medical Informatics: Technical Paper WHO Cairo, 2001

Resources

Articles

Electronic Journal of Health Informatics http://ejhi.net/ojs/index.php/ejhi

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association http://www.jamia.org/ 

Australian Government Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts - National Policy Framework for E-Health http://www.archive.dcita.gov.au/1999/09/rise/framework

NEHTA National E-Health Standards Development: A Management Framework http://www.nehta.gov.au/search?searchword=Management+framework&ordering=&searchphrase=all

Links to Organisations

American Health Information Management Association
www.ahima.org

Australian College of Health Informatics www.achi.org.au

HealthConnect www.health.gov.au/internet/hconnect/publishing.nsf/Content/home

Health Informatics Society of Australia www.hisa.org.au

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society www.himss.org

American Medical Informatics Association www.amia.org

University of Queensland Centre for Online Health http://www.uq.edu.au/coh/