Health Informatics

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Health informatics is the bridging of computer science, information and the health care field. This interdisciplinary field can be applied to a range of medical fields such as nursing, biomedicine, medicine and subspecialties such as immunology (immunoinformatics). Informatics not only has roles to play in day-to-day areas of immunology such as data storage/retrieval, decision support, standards and electronic health care records but also in research and education such as data mining and simulation systems (Coiera, 2002). Informatics and more specifically, health informatics first started being used in in the late 1950s with the rise of computers (Ho, 2010). Technologies such as computers allowed practitioners and researches to sort, store and retrieve information like never before (Ho, 2010). As the advantages of informatics increased, so did technology which further disseminated health informatics into the healthcare industry. This essay will be discussing the six main areas of health informatics. These areas include telemedicine, decision support, data mining, electronic health records, standards and finally simulation systems (mhoff, Webb, & Goldschmidt, 2001). These areas of health informatics are more predominate in some areas of the health care industry than others. However, they all influence each area in some way. For example, decision support systems are used extensively by medical practitioners in day-to-day work. On the other hand, researches would rarely rely on decision support systems within their area of expertise. In contrast, researches may use simulation systems and data mining more expensively than the medical practitioner. However, this is not to say that either profession is not influenced in some way by each area of health informatics. In this essay we will also be giving a more specific focus on the subspecialty of medicine: immunology and how health informatics has, currently and potentially will impact on this field of medicine. Telemedicine

Telemedicine is the use of technologies, such as information systems and telecommunication systems, to allow the medical practitioner to deliver healthcare at a distant location (Coiera, 2002). This type of field in health informatics allows peoples isolated in distant locations to receive and benefit from health care services. In addition, this field allows people who may not be distantly isolated but their region might be lacking in specialised medical personal, to have access to these specialists. In early forms of telemedicine, the telephone or similar audio devices was all that was available. This is restrictive to the practitioner and may frustrate the patient. However, as technologies have advanced, so too has telecommunication (Ho, 2010). Physicians are now able to communicate with patients at great distance and with high definition visual equipment. In some unique and highly advanced areas of telemedicine, physicians are able to perform surgery on the patient through the use of technology located at different sites (Coiera, 2002). The use of these client-server technologies has turned traditional telemedicine from being relatively diagnostically based to being able to perform physical surgery. Although the immunology field may not fully utilize all areas of this remarkable field, there is some subspecialties of telemedicine that can be used. For example, telepathology is a field of telemedicine that allows the practice of pathology at a distance. Patients suspected of immunological disorders may use this system to transport medical images to the pathologist for diagnostic purposes. In this way tissue samples may never physically leave the patients area but diagnostics needed by the immunologist from the pathologist can be made from distant locations. Decision Support

Immunoinformatics provide extensive information for decision support systems (DSS) which is needed by data bases and prediction tools for DSS (Coiera, 2002). A...
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