Module 6: Health Informatics in Brief

What is Health Informatics?

“The rapidly developing scientific field that deals with the storage, retrieval, and optimal use of biomedical information, data and knowledge for problem solving and decision making…the analysis and dissemination of medical data through the application of computers to various aspects of health care and medicine…the science of collecting, storing, packaging and using health information…a body of knowledge and a set of techniques to organize and manage information in support of research, education and patient care.”(1)

Especially in resource-poor developing countries, health informatics is important in health facilities where human resources are inadequate. Not only can the efficient storage and management of data using information technology tools reduce manual labor, it can also streamline data retrieval for problem solving and decision making, thus making health care delivery more efficient and more productive. International donors like the World Bank and the World Health Organization provide the financial and technical knowhow to implement Health Information Systems (HIS) in developing countries.(2) A strong health information infrastructure, when coupled with an effective health communication system, can improve health systems in drastic ways.

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(1) Sauter, Vicki L.. "Mini-MHA: Health Informatics." mini MHA. 21 Sep 1999. 23 Jun 2009.

(2) Kimaro, Honest C. and José L. Nhampossab. "The challenges of sustainability of health information systems in developing countries: comparative case studies of Mozambique and Tanzania." Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries Dec 2007 Web.23 Jun 2009.