Informatics Specialties Provide Unique Opportunities
Health informatics is the umbrella phrase used to define the use information technology to manage patient data as a way to improve the quality of care and achieve better healthcare outcomes. Under that umbrella, there are several subsets of informatics that collect and use data in different ways to help accomplish specific goals.
Healthcare professionals who wish to specialize in a particular discipline can find great opportunity within the following informatics fields:
Clinical Informatics is the broad-based discipline of health informatics that leverages computer systems to help analyze and manage patient data, primarily for the purpose of individual patient care. This is the data at the heart of the electronic health record, which provides collaborative, multidisciplinary access to a patient’s medical history, care plans, lab results, medication records, and more.
Nursing informatics focuses on evidence-based, patient-centered care where decision-making is centered on factual information that helps to drive positive outcomes. Nurses use hard data, coupled with clinical knowledge and experience, to create and monitor specific treatment plans. Data can come from physician notes, chart entries, smart medical devices, and other sources of input.
We primarily think of imaging as the information from which a diagnosis is made. However, the practice of imaging informatics begins with how images are acquire and processed, before they are retrieved, analyzed and distributed across an electronic medical record system. Imaging informatics is viewed as one of the most valuable areas of opportunity, serving as a bridge across many clinical disciplines.
Pharmacy informatics is concerned with medication-related data and how that data applies to patient care and outcomes. It has particular importance in terms of medication management and patient safety, and includes data collected from automated dispensing cabinets, smart infusion devices and other robotic pharmacy tools.
Public Health Informatics
This subcategory of informatics is sometimes called “surveillance informatics” by researchers because it scrutinizes and investigates public health data in an effort to identify trends. Public health informatics presents opportunities in tracking disease outbreak, managing the spread of illnesses, analyzing immunization data, and studying the results of new treatment protocols. The challenge comes in ensuring that the necessary systems are in place to input, collect, interpret, and share relevant data.