Studies & Degrees in Health Care Informatics
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Health Care Informatics Study Programs
With the rise of computers and microchips in 1950s came the advancement in the medicine field in the form of Healthcare Informatics. The earliest use of computers for medicine was for dental project by Robert Ledley at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards. As more advanced technologies came out, more expert systems were developed: INTERNIST-1 and MYCIN, which was designed to identify bacteria that caused severe infections, were developed in the mid-1950s while, in 1965, MEDLINE and MEDLARS, both literature and biomedical bibliographic database, were used in the National Library of Medicine. More advances in Healthcare Informatics were made as the years passed including the usage of MUMPS, a programming language, for clinical applications in 1970s and 1980s; the number of commercial vendors that market practice management and electronic medical records systems grew in the 1970s; and, in 2004, Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), a descendent of MUMPS, was used in the United States Veterans Affairs hospital system.
Healthcare Informatics, sometimes referred to as health informatics or medical informatics, is the mixture of information science, computer science, and health care which deals with the resources, devices, and methods needed to optimize acquisition, storage, retrieval, and the use of information in biomedicine and health. Tools used in this area include computers, clinical guidelines, formal medical terminologies, and information and communication systems. The information systems used create better operating efficiencies in the three basic foundations of healthcare which are clinical, administrative, and financial. It also helps many physicians by giving them access to a wide medical knowledge database to make better and more accurate medical decisions.
Should a student choose to take this major, he/she will encounter the many information types that healthcare professionals encounter including knowledge based resources, clinical reports, patient medical records, diagnostic and therapeutic data, and communications among caregivers and patients. Students will learn how to use information technology to compile, access, and use this information to improve the proficiencies of healthcare service. Students will learn and understand the fundamental hardware and software concepts, operating systems, GUI environments and system development life cycles of medical informatics.
They will also learn about the change issues in healthcare environments, resource management such as inventory, tracking, and acquisition, and the role of policy formation. Other significant knowledge such as consumer issues, standards and security, and the provision of health information resources to healthcare workers will be covered as well before students move on to studying the application of healthcare informatics. Students will also explore the technical, organizational, and cost-benefit issues related to the field including clinical decision-support, integrated networking and distributed computing technologies, telemedicine applications, and artificial intelligence. With a good curriculum that offers a mixture of classroom lectures, group case studies, and computer laboratory exercises, students will be able to exercise and develop analytical skills for appraising health information systems. They will also acquire practical experiences in using biomedical research databases, desktop application software, and electronic communication systems. Most schools, however, require students to have basic or, better, advanced knowledge and practice in the Health Science field.