What is health informatics?

Transforming health care through health informatics

Health informatics is changing the practice and delivery of health care by providing computer technology-based solutions to bridge the knowledge and information gaps experienced within the health care system.

Syed Sibte Raza Abidi, PhD
Director of Health Informatics, Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University

Health informatics as a discipline

Health informatics is not about computers and technology. It’s about healthcare as the focus, and information technology as the tool. Health informatics focuses on understanding:

  • how health information is used in healthcare delivery
  • how we can better use health information to improve healthcare
  • how we can incorporate information technology to improve healthcare

Why health informatics?

Health informatics applies information technology to help:

  • improve quality of care by:
    • accessing patient information
    • implementing best evidence
    • standardizing clinical care
    • improving patient satisfaction
  • improve patient safety by:
    • reducing medical errors
    • generating timely alerts and reminders
    • providing clinical decision support
  • record and share health information by developing:
    • electronic medical records
    • personal health records
    • collaborative care teams
  • reduce healthcare costs through better:
    • healthcare planning
    • resource optimization

What do health informaticians do?

Manage health information

  • storage, sharing, privacy, security, availability issues
  • coding standards, medical terminologies, information sharing standards

Study and design health information flow

  • intra-institution and inter-institution health information flows
  • point-of-care use of information systems

Design and develop health information systems

  • requirements assessment and specification
  • development of clinical information services
  • application of health information standards

Deploy health information systems  

  • change management strategies
  • user engagement planning

Study the impact of health information systems  

  • usability and efficacy analysis
  • cost–benefit analysis

Analyze health data

  • health data integration, analysis and visualization
  • health data interoperability
  • ‘big’ health data analytics
  • situational awareness

Promote evidence-based healthcare

  • data analytics for research, practice audits, policy development
  • decision support systems to exploit clinical guidelines for care standardization

Strategize patient engagement and education

  • patient self-management programs
  • web portals, mobile apps
New opportunities

A master’s degree in health informatics from Dalhousie will open many new doors for your career. You could be a:

  • health IT system analyst
  • health IT project manager
  • health data manager
  • health data standards specialist
  • health data analyst
  • health IT performance analyst
  • health IT system architect

See more career opportunities.