What is Biomedical Informatics?

The answer to “what is biomedical informatics?” may surprise you. While the name sounds complicated, the field of biomedical informatics simply combines the areas of information technology and patient data collection. It is part of the larger field of health informatics. However, there is still quite a bit of debate surrounding the role that biomedical informatics plays in the healthcare field. Is it information technology? Are they administrative workers? Do they actually work in healthcare? Is it a mix of the two fields?

People who work in the field of biomedical informatics are sometimes called biomedical information technicians or biomedical information technologists.

What does a Biomedical Information Technician Do?

In the simplest terms, a biomedical information technician handles biomedical information from patients and puts into an electronic record system. They often work directly with physicians, doctors and nurses in order to double-check the information they have received. They organize this information, make it anonymous if necessary and then add to it their practice’s database or even national registries. On an individual level, biomedical information technicians compile patient medical histories into one simple electronic file, which can make diagnoses and treatment plans much easier to implement.

Biomedical information technologists are trained in special post-degree courses that provide instruction on basic biology, chemistry, medical terminology and anatomy and physiology. While a general health informatics technician might also be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a hospital’s administrative records, a biomedical information technician will usually only be responsible for maintaining and updating patient records and health information.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs): a Major Player

It is not surprising that more and more hospitals and clinics are shifting to a paper-free records system, given that there are federal incentives available to those medical facilities who adopt an EHR software system. Technologists are shifting into an active administrative role that trains them to use this new software quickly and easily. Doctors will be able to pass this information along to the biomedical information technologists, who can then store it appropriately. These new EHRs can be transferred seamlessly from one practice to another without the hassle of moving physical files between two or more different locations. Without biomedical information technologists, the EHR system would not work as well as it does.

Biomedical Informatics: the Future of Health Care

The research possibilities that biomedical informatics can yield will help advance patient care. As the age of the average American continues to increase, there will be a greater need for high-quality medical records. With biomedical informatics, doctors and medical researchers will have the ability to chart health trends both in individuals and the general population. Being able to track and predict patient outcomes will become much easier.

Biomedical informatics is so much more than IT with a healthcare twist. It can be used to advance current medical knowledge, improve current techniques and can even help us chart and identify public health issues. What is biomedical informatics but the future of patient-facing health care services?