What is Medical Informatics?

Medical informatics is sometimes called “health informatics” and there are many ways in which it can be defined. Simply put, it is the field wherein information technology is applied to healthcare. The goal of this field is to improve the way in which healthcare is provided with the management of medical information. Health informatics is by nature interdisciplinary and involves areas such as data mining, public health and computer science among many other fields. 

Elements of Medical Informatics

Included within the umbrella term “medical informatics” are elements such as biomedical information and knowledge. Medical informatics deals with the storage and retrieval of this information. Medical informatics also encompasses broader areas of healthcare such as nursing. The use of stored data to effect medical care by clinicians is another important element of medical informatics. Lastly, there is the information technology aspect wherein computers are used to store and analyze scientific data.

The Importance of Medical Informatics

The use of technology for managing and organizing medical information is a key component of personalized medicine. Having up-to-date complex information at hand allows clinicians to make important decisions and thus enables them to provide the highest level of care possible. The challenge of leveraging information technology to enhance the provision of medical services is one that the healthcare industry has only just begun to meet.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

These professionals are charged with managing health information and ensuring that it is both accurate and accessible. Their duties typically include maintaining clinical databases, recording data for storage and retrieval along with ensuring that patient information is kept private. In order to ensure the accuracy of their records, a medical information technician will work with nurses in order to get clarification on diagnoses or other information. The job description of these technicians is not set in stone and is expected to evolve along with technology. The exact nature of their job is also dependent on the type of facility in which they work.

Education for Medical Informatics

Workers in this area can be certified at a number of levels. They have the option to pursue degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. They can also enter a community college program that will train them to perform their duties under the supervision of a professional. Programs are often designed for those with experience in the healthcare industry and who are seeking to broaden their skills as well as for those with no healthcare experience at all. One of the benefits of the interdisciplinary nature of medical informatics is the fact that it allows for effective sharing of knowledge between the different disciplines. They are able to view problems from different perspectives and to expand their vocabularies. This sharing of information can help to eliminate barriers and make it easier to arrive at solutions for problems.

The field of informatics is helping to define the healthcare industry’s approach to research, care and public health. It is a rapidly evolving science that is drawing from and contributing to a wide range of other medical fields. Those who enter medical informatics will have the opportunity to improve patient care in healthcare facilities and thus may provide significant benefits to society.