History of Health Informatics

History of Health Informatics

Although the use of healthcare related electronic computer systems first emerged just 30 to 40 years ago, the origins of healthcare computing tools and information systems can be traced back several centuries. The earliest forms of computing and information system from were derived from Von Liebnitz’s views surrounding codification and classification of human behaviors.

Since the early 1960’s, health information systems have grown rapidly. They now touch essentially every aspect of healthcare and professionals from across all medical related disciplines and areas of practice. For the past several decades, technology and computing systems have continued to evolve at astounding rates, followed closely by an abundance of complex medical data and information. With more computing power comes more data and information, along with new advancements in medical technology and procedures. Accordingly, we now face an ever-expanding body of medical knowledge that changes quickly; one where information and knowledge are created and expired in continually shorter and shorter cycles.

Additional changes to the healthcare environment caused by market-driven healthcare reform during the 1990s have also fueled heavy demand for health information systems. More specifically, the expansion of manage care, the development of integrated delivery systems by healthcare providers, and major changes to billing and insurance reimbursement processes require system to integrate and exchange information and data efficiently and in like form.

It is from these growing information demands on the healthcare industry that the discipline of health informatics is born. As medical and patient related information reaches deep across every healthcare discipline and health services provider, so too does the science of health informatics.

Health Information is defined as “an evolving scientific discipline that deals with the collection, storage, retrieval, communications and optimal use of health related data, information and knowledge. The discipline utilizes the methods and technologies of the information sciences for the purposes of problem solving, decision making and assuring highest quality health care in all basic and applied area of the biomedical sciences” (Graham, 1994).

The substance of Health Informatics is data, information and knowledge, and all that is done with it by health care professionals. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that the significance of Health Informatics will continue to increase as technology advances and the abundance of available information continues to grow. Indeed, the rapidly growing knowledge base in the medical field is vast and encompasses both scientific knowledge and the day-to-day business of providing health care. Accordingly, administrative processes are becoming increasingly augmented with systems that address the core of medicine in the clinical and research settings.

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