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What is Health Informatics?
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What is Health Informatics?

Health informatics is the science behind the convergence of healthcare, information technology and business. The practice of health informatics deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing, and optimal use of data that relates to human health, and it considers how we use this knowledge for problem solving and decision making.


The HIMSS definition 

Digital health connects and empowers people and populations to manage health and wellness, augmented by accessible and supportive provider teams working within flexible, integrated, interoperable, and digitally-enabled care environments that strategically leverage digital tools, technologies and services to transform care delivery.

HIMSS notes that a technology-based definition risks becoming out of date as the technology changes. According to Anne Snowdon, director of clinical research at HIMSS "Definitions are really hard to create, especially as a researcher. You don’t just pull them out of the sky. I started by having my team go into the literature and find every definition of digital health that’s publicly available.

The HIMSS definition is really intended to do two things: It’s system-focused, so what does a digital health system achieve in terms of an outcome, and [it looks at] how does it achieve that? What’s the role of digital technology in advancing digital health? And if you look at that definition, there [are] some key components to it. One is, what does it achieve in empowered consumers or citizens? It empowers people to self-manage their health and wellness. The second thing it’s very much connected to is, it connects clinical teams, using digital technology, to consumers to help them to help themselves in terms of optimizing health and wellness.


Why does Health Informatics matter?

Health Informatics underpins a nation's ability to deliver an affordable, flexible health system that will provide better health outcomes to citizens.

Active project areas within health informatics include:

  • Electronic Health Records
  • Knowledge Management
  • Decision support
  • Telemedicine and telehealth
  • Standards
  • Evidence for benefit/harm
  • Ethics and Security

Based on international trends, the NZ health sector needs to be ready to support further changes in communication technologies, portability, genomics, and telehealth. In addition to managing the changing public expectations of access to their health information.

Is it just about technology?

Health informatics is about much more than technology. For example, you may use technology to collect the data, and you might store the data in a computer, but health informatics is more concerned with what you do with the data after you have collected it. 

  • When and how is it shared?
  • When is it kept private?
  • How do you read and translate the data?
  • What does it tell you?
  • What do you do with that knowledge?

Career opportunities

Health informatics is one of the fastest growing areas within healthcare. To achieve the Government's eHealth vision, New Zealand will need many more health informatics practitioners, now and in coming decades.

So what is the best way to create a health informatics expert? Do you teach a person working in the health sector about IT? Or do you teach an IT person about health care? The short answer is we need to do both. If we are to be successful in designing effective solutions to transform the health sector, New Zealand needs health sector experts who know about technology - and technology experts who know about health.


To learn more about career opportunities in health informatics and build your network within an active community join HiNZ today.


To search and apply for jobs visit the HiNZ career centre.


Visual representation

These infographics, courtesy of the University of Illinois, help explain about the field of health informatics (click image to view full graphic):


The Intersection of Healthcare & IT


When Healthcare & Computer Science Collide




How Tech Companies Are Changing Our Healthcare System





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