At the most basic level it is the discipline that creates a bridge between the clinical domains of knowledge and the domain of information technology.
It is sometimes hard to give a simple definition, but the American Medical Informatics Association has described it as follows:
"An emerging interdisciplinary and diverse field that:
- combines health sciences (such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and allied health) with computer science, management and decision science, biostatistics, engineering and information technology.
- solves problems in health care delivery, pharmaceutical, biomedical and health sciences research, health education and clinical decision making
- is essential in all aspects of health care and biomedicine"
The cornerstones of health informatics are the ability to:
- analyze data
- manage knowledge
- undertake data acquisition and representation
- manage change
- integrate information
Health informatics has a number of internal speciality areas, such as Medical/Clinical informatics, bioinformatics, nursing informatics, dental informatics, public health informatics and veterinary informatics.
Careers in health informatics exist in clinical care and research, personal health management for patients and consumers, public and population health, health policy and translational science. Informaticists help in the design, implementation, and use of systems that manage the increasingly complex and voluminous information in health care delivery and research.
There is an estimated need for 10,000 health informatics professionals in the next 5 years who will work in industry, academic institutinos, community based organizations, government agencies and the military, health care facilities, private practice, research organizations and private health practices.
This is an expanding and exciting field where high quality jobs are plentiful. It is not surprising that so many people are retraining and entering the profession of health informatics.