Computer science


Many people are curious about this new field of Clinical health Informatics (CI) and what it encompasses. Unfortunately, there is not one clear cut definition of this subspecialty of medicine. Even among those of us who work in this field, there is not yet consensus, as CI is so broad and touches so many different aspects of the practice of medicine that each of us comes at it from a slightly different perspective. Also, the rapid rate of evolution in this field causes us to redefine CI on a constant basis. The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) defines clinical informatics as, “the application of informatics and information technology to deliver healthcare services.” According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), CI “promotes the understanding, integration and application of information technology in healthcare settings.” Clinical Informatics is defined in the ACGME program requirements as “the subspecialty of all medical specialties that transforms health care by analyzing, designing, implementing, and evaluating information and communication systems to improve patient care, enhance access to care, advance individual and population health outcomes, and strengthen the clinician-patient relationship.”

Clinical Informatics sits at the intersection of information science, information systems, workflow and processes, and leadership and management. It is how data is collected, structured, stored, processed, retrieved, analyzed, presented and communicated. CI transforms data into usable and actionable information. Clinical informatics is not the same as information technology (IT) or computer science. We're not computer doctors fixing broken computers or dead printers. Also, we are not (for the most part) computer programmers doing programming. From a CI perspective, health data is our main focus and IT is just one of several tools at our disposal to achieve our goals. Clinical informatics, also called applied clinical informatics, focuses on providing better patient care through technology. Clinical computer scientists evaluate the effectiveness and operation of clinical information systems, how information is used, and how best to improve the quality of care in the future. A clinical information system is a computerized system designed to collect, store, manipulate, and provide clinical information critical to the healthcare delivery process.