What is Medical Informatics?

Medical informatics is found at the intersection of healthcare and technology. It is where skills in both medical and computer sciences come together in an effort to improve healthcare and patient outcomes. Professionals in this hybrid field draw on expertise from both disciplines to put technology to its best use in patient care, clinical and research settings.

Types of Work in Medical Informatics

Medical informatics professionals are tasked with using information technology to its greatest advantage in the healthcare industry. This means they are responsible for such tasks as:

  • Creating, maintaining or facilitating new ways for medical facilities and practices to keep electronic health records (EHR),
  • Improving communication between healthcare providers and facilities to ensure the best patient outcomes,
  • Storing, managing and analyzing data for research,
  • Assisting with complex, technology-dependent research, such as that involved in human genome sequencing.

Specialties in the field of medical informatics

Medical and computer science professionals who wish to transition into this field with a master’s or doctoral degree and students heading straight into this arena will find a number of specialties exist. They include:

  • Bioinformatics: Practitioners in this specialty are concerned with storing, retrieving, sharing and helping analyze biomedical information for research and/or patient care. Subspecialties include chemical, nursing and dental informatics.
  • Public health informatics: This specialty involves the use of technology to guide how the public learns about health and health care while also ensuring access to the latest medical research. Professionals also ensure public health practices have access to the information they need.
  • Organizational informatics: The focus here is ensuring a smooth flow of communication within a healthcare organization.
  • Social informatics: These specialists study the social aspects of computer science while gaining insights into how information technology affects social environments and how social environments affect information technology.
  • Clinical informatics: This is the application of informatics and information technology for clinical research and patient care. Professionals leverage information technology for medical education, patient education and students, among others.

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