What is Health Informatics?

With the course Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, I have an opportunity to enhance my knowledge base. This is to explore, as a concept, Health Informatics and how it coincides with health promotion. I have heard the term Health Informatics and have awareness that it is an evolving field. However, since I am unsure I fully understand the term Health Informatics, some research is indicated. It is no surprise to learn that the definition and models of Health Informatics vary widely and have multiple applications. Many Health Informatics models address the processing of data in the healthcare environment in order to analyze healthcare systems. Since much of healthcare is process and systems oriented this is useful. This is especially true for those working in areas where a defined process is helpful in reducing harm to patients. An example would be following a systems process for the administration of medications to decrease the chance of error and potential harm. The text for this course, Health Promotion Throughout the Life Span, discusses the fact that most medical errors are process rather than people oriented. Also Health Informatics address the need to develop algorithms so that vital information needed for the provision of healthcare is available at the time and place healthcare needs to be provided. This makes perfect sense. We find that algorithms based on historical data and evidenced based sciences are very useful for effective patient care. An example of such an algorithm would be those provided by the American Heart Association for the provision of emergency basic or advanced life support. In the broadest sense, Health Informatics could be translated as understanding the skills and tools that enable the sharing and use of information to deliver and promote health. This, for all of us in healthcare, is our goal.

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