Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Role of Health Informatics

Interesting question that's always puzzled me is what is the differentiation between the term "informatics" and "information management."  In my admittedly limited experience, informatics is used primarily in scientific and medical fields, such as "health informatics".  Information management is a more general business term.  Why different?

For one thing, I suppose, the etymology of "informatics" explains part of it.  The "-ics" ending means "the science of."  So "informatics" is the science of information rather than the management of information.

The Wikipedia article defines "health informatics" as having these key aspects:
  • Architecture for electronic medical records and other health information systems
  • Clinical and other health related decision support systems
  • Standards for integration
  • Standards for terminology and vocabulary

Food for thought - In the health care industry, does it make sense to co-locate business roles like master data management, data quality, information integration, and business intelligence with the traditional informatics departments; rather than building them within business management units or IT/IS units?  Does asking health informatics to work with other non-clinical business functions somehow risk or distract from patient care responsibilities?

(As a side note for those across the pond, it turns out that "business informatics" is a European term, closely related to "information systems" study, but with some subjective differences pointed out in the Wikipedia article.  It is not a term commonly used in the U.S.)

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