In my own words, I would define informatics as “the study of collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting information to facilitate processes.” Informatics combines both computer science and information science to encompass a broad range of computational technology, as well as the collection, storage, and analysis of information.
The focus area for my blog will be social justice and combating systemic racism in healthcare. Unfortunately, data has shown many disparities in quality of care, as well as health outcomes, based on race. Through the use of informatics, there are opportunities to mitigate these disparities in the following key areas:
IT systems are integral to collecting health and socioeconomic data, as well as providing tools such as machine learning to derive insights based on that data. These systems helps to identify disparities in health outcomes and quality, as well as to suggest the underlying root causes.
Dissemination of information
Informatics support social media networks, apps, portals, and many other platforms for disseminating information. In the modern world, public health awareness largely depends on informatics, such as in COVID-19 social distancing protocols. However, access to technology is a barrier that can prevent equal access to vital health information.
In the journal ScienceDirect, Timothy Carney and Amanda Kong wrote about the potential application of informatics in reducing health disparities and improving health equity.
See Table 1 below, from “Leveraging health informatics to foster a smart systems response to health disparities and health equity challenges.”
Table 1. Informatics domains, health equity challenges, and informatics strategies.
|Informatics Domains||Health Disparities Elimination and Health Equity Achievement Challenges||Information Technology Tools, Data Sources, and/or Strategies|
|Public Health Informatics||• Establish national guidelines, standards, and objectives for health disparities and health equity (e.g., Healthy People 2010 objective) • Foster timely translation of research evidence into practice through national health information clearinghouses • Evaluate state and local health department health disparities and health equity policy and practices||•National surveillance and disease registries •State and local health department surveys •Public health program reporting •Public health research data hubs|
|Population Health Informatics||•Foster equitable and empowering patient-provider communication •Emphasize primary care and preventive care and reduce the use of emergency care use for non-emergencies •Increase coordination of care through the use of Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs)||•Electronic Health Records (EHR) •Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) •Clinical data warehouses •Regional research data collaborations •Hospital-based event and disease tracking through registries (e.g., medical errors, quality, safety)|
|Community Health Informatics||•Leverage community-based participatory research hubs and community partnerships •Establish multi-organizational coalition network partnerships (e.g., community, academic, corporate, and government) to address collective large-scale challenges||•Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) •Community health worker summaries •Community-based knowledge exchange networks|
|Consumer Health Informatics||•Increase health literacy •Increase access to care •Increase emphasis on patient self-management and shared decision making||•Patient reported outcomes •Patient health surveys •Patient advocacy (e.g., lay health advisors, social workers) •Electronic patient portals •Patient Health Records (PHRs)|
I hope to explore all of these areas throughout the HIT421 course and in my career. Stay tuned!