When it comes to keeping the population healthy, there have been many useful advances throughout history. From the earliest ways of identifying the problems bacteria brings to how we understand and treat diseases in the modern age, new ways of doing so more effectively are always being sought. Doing this has seen many major breakthroughs over the years in areas such as cancer treatments, and innovative new approaches to patient care.

One key area within modern healthcare is health informatics. With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated globally each day, health informatics provides the best way to make use of it through IT and computer science. This in turn allows the healthcare sector to keep pushing forward and making new discoveries in patient treatment, understanding and even possible cures for some diseases.

The health informatics sector is growing quickly at the moment. This is mainly due to the increasingly digital nature of healthcare but also the pioneering work done by many in the field. Experts in health informatics include Sudir Raju, who has worked hard to showcase what this key field can offer to healthcare institutions over the years.

What is health informatics?

If you have not come across it before, you may wonder what exactly health informatics is. In simple terms, it uses IT systems to collect, store, organize and analyze healthcare data. The main goal is to do this in a bid to improve healthcare outcomes for patients and increase understanding around diseases. In the main, health informatics uses various electronic systems or devices to do this.

It is particularly useful for doctors, nurses, hospital admin managers and technicians for the simple access it gives to patient’s medical records, along with the associated data. It allows all those involved to have all the information they need to decide on the best course of action to take.

How does it work?

In general terms, health informatics works by using digital technology to help improve the care given to patients. Patient data is collected and then stored electronically on specialist HIT systems to make it available to medical professionals. Electronic health records are becoming more common in many healthcare institutions for the efficiency and greater patient care they deliver. They rely greatly on health informatics, which is why this field is becoming so popular.

Health informatics is not just concerned with using data to facilitate individual patient care. Collected datasets will also be analyzed and reviewed by health informatics professionals to spot trends or areas where efficiencies could be improved. This allows for hospitals or surgeries to make better strategic planning decisions based on the findings that health informatics provides.

Healthcare informatics is also involved with a wider brief to develop tools and systems that institutions can use to measure data effectively, and streamline the patient care process as a result. By developing new tools or databases to do this more effectively, healthcare informatics professionals can help to push patient care into new areas. As this sector is essentially IT based, it also works by facilitating the communication of regulatory IT requirements between departments in healthcare institutions.

Many types of healthcare informatics

Although the general idea behind healthcare informatics relies on using IT to collect, store and use healthcare data, there are actually specific fields within it:

Clinical informatics - this uses IT within clinical research and patient care. The overall goal here is to enable health informatics to aid research into various illnesses and any clinical trials associated with them. As well as helping to provide better care for the patients in the trial, it is also the field within informatics that drives future understanding of diseases.

Organizational informatics - this side of health informatics looks at how IT can be used to bring healthcare institutions together. It explores how IT systems can be developed and used to improve efficiency, collaboration and communication. The emphasis on more effective communication can be seen in the growth of EHR’s within medical settings.

Bioinformatics - this field within healthcare informatics is devoted to all areas in the biomedical sciences. It is concerned with the retrieval, sharing and use of relevant information to solve problems. This can encompass a wide range of disciplines, from nursing to dental informatics.

While these are by no means the only subsets to health informatics as a whole, they give an indication of how advanced and wide ranging this combination of IT and healthcare is.

Health informatics is growing rapidly

As technology becomes ever more important to the health sector, so will informatics. Being able to store, analyze, use and retrieve data is vital. This is certainly the case when thinking about electronic health records that are widely used across the globe. Health informatics is the power behind systems such as these, and allows better patient care to be delivered. It also gives medical professionals the necessary data in one place to gain new understanding on illness or common diseases.