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An Overview of Health Informatics for Future Health Leaders

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In and around a rural Kentucky township, a father endured a long, extensive search to find mental health treatment for his teenage daughter’s depression. Eventually, he found a provider that could start regular sessions with her immediately. What stands out about this narrative is that the provider delivers treatment via Skype video conferencing from nearly 260 miles away. Telemedicine, a small part of the informatics discipline, represents a victory for health advocates seeking to increase service access and improve community wellness in rural areas.

As technology costs plummet, telemedicine grows in provider implementation and consumer adoption. Among a technically advanced youth population, the solution fits perfectly, and across all health disciplines, informatics advancements provide solutions that empower care providers and consumers.

Health Informatics for Administrators and Leaders

Informatics technology provides administrators and organizational leaders with immediate access to critical information, helping them plan and deliver safe and efficient services. [1] As exemplified in the opening narrative, informatics technology helps health organizations reach consumers in remote areas and fulfill community health needs. The technology helps care providers maintain legible and accurate patient information and reduce service errors such as conflicting prescriptions, in addition to making it easier to share health information with other organizations so that care providers can make timely, evidenced-based decisions.

Informatics for Health Care Organizations

Informatics has changed the way that health care organizations operate. Today, health care enterprises can extrapolate meaningful information from seemly immeasurable data stores.

Most health care related waste derives from inefficient operations. Informatics technology streamlines organizational operations, saving hospitals and medical facilities millions of dollars annually. For instance, increased accuracy in service delivery reduces errors and in turn reduces malpractice claims. The technology also allows organizations to perform faster diagnostics, reducing overall patient costs, harm, and discomfort.

A Closer Look at Informatics

Heath informatics (HI) encompasses the capture, transmission, and use of electronic information. [2] The discipline revolves around informatics principles, information systems, and information technology (IT) as applied to health care. Many disciplines converge to embody the field, including, but not limited to:

● Health care delivery
● Health care safety
● Information science
● Management engineering
● Public health
● Telemedicine

Care providers apply informatics principles in ways suited to their particular disciplines. However, researchers and educators focus on four primary disciplines: applied informatics, bioinformatics or medical informatics, nursing informatics, and public health informatics.

Bioinformatics/ Medical Informatics

Informatics breakthroughs rival the creation of the microscope. [2] In some form, researchers have incorporated informatics technology across virtually all biosciences. Research disciplines that have traditionally relied on basic data technologies, reel from the potential created by the blending of informatics and technology.

This development is especially prevalent in genomics, where measurement innovations enable historical discoveries such as the ability to manipulate live genetic materials. In the past, for example, researchers would decode one human gene at a time. Today, however, they can measure all 20,000 – or more – genes at once, transforming the field from a theoretical research area to a discovery-rich discipline. Still, with this progress comes a sharp increase in the need for skilled statisticians to fully exploit the powerful capabilities made possible by informatics.

Nursing Informatics

Health care organizations have started to emphasize the importance of informatics technology skills among nurse leaders. [3] Technology experts forecast that the modern informatics will soon achieve status as a standard nursing tool. To date, the informatics discipline permeates:

● Consumer health education
● Digital communications
● Health care software applications
● Patient monitoring
● Patient records
● Research initiatives

As informatics standards solidify and more organizations join forces, the medical field moves toward a unified dialogue, a timely development in a field undergoing radical change due to legislative demands for improved community health. In the midst of changes, informatics technology facilitates collaboration between nursing disciplines.

Public Health Informatics

Public health agencies use informatics technology to educate consumers about health issues, monitor community wellness, prepare for health and disaster emergencies, and prevent disease outbreaks. [4] The enterprises use the information to improve wellness among specific groups, such as children, low-income individuals, drug users, etc.

The initiatives developed by public health officials seek to eliminate the source of problems and might even involve managing consumer environments as opposed to direct treatments. Occasionally, agencies can analyze and share data using informatics technology such as biosurveillance, digital laboratory reporting, and outbreak prevention and intervention software. This capability results in enhanced agency knowledge, faster response time, and improved public health.

Applied Informatics

The applied informatics discipline harnesses the power of big data, converting massive amounts of incomprehensible information into actionable suggestions. [5] When used for informatics applications, big data technology saves valuable money, resources, and time.

Researchers using applied informatics turn theory into real-world solutions. Applied informatics specialists use big data technology to evaluate and solve issues ranging in scope from community to national groups. This discipline capitalizes on the widespread adoption of EHRs. Using informatics innovations, contemporary care providers find and exploit considerable value from massive stores of health information.

Informatics innovation represents only part of the solution for improving consumer health; care provider organizations need more analytics experts who specialize in health related sciences and disciplines. In the meantime, health organizations will continue using informatics technology to improve and rewrite health narratives for United States consumers.

Learn More

At Regis, we give you more pathways to pursue your goals in healthcare administration. As a dedicated leader of health administration education, we welcome ambition-driven, self-motivated professionals from all health care settings. Gain special insight into areas like management, communications, health informatics, and health policy through our Online Master of Health Administration.

Recommended Readings

5 Skills Every Health Care Leader Needs
Leadership Strategies for Health Administrators
7 TED Talks for Health Care Leaders

Sources:

[1] http://www.ahima.org/careers/healthinfo?tabid=what

[2] http://genomicsclass.github.io/book/pages/introduction.html

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2655955/

[4] https://www.amia.org/applications-informatics/public-health-informatics

[5] http://library.ahima.org/doc?oid=300237