Digital Services

The Future Of Informatics Is Now

The Future Of Informatics Is Now

Back in the day if you or any member of your family was sick, you simply called the family doctor who would grab his trusty bag of instruments and make a house call to diagnose the illness and begin treatment.

Today healthcare has become complicated. Thanks to technology, doctors, hospitals, nurses and others involved in healthcare can retrieve all kinds of data about you and your malady, diagnose it and create a plan to treat it.

All of this has led to the development of a whole new discipline within the field of healthcare known as informatics. Referred to in many different monikers, including health informatics, healthcare informatics, medical informatics, nursing informatics, clinical informatics, and biomedical informatics, the concept integrates computer-based innovation into the field of public health and healthcare service delivery, management and planning.

A number of scholarly disciplines are involved including information science, computer science, social science, behavioral science, management science and more. And new technologies are joining in every day including artificial intelligence and embedded systems.

The discipline has developed a new job classification known as clinical informaticists. It is the job of the informaticists to take their knowledge of informatics concepts and methods as well as health informatics tools to:

Also included in the new discipline are clinicians whose job it is to collaborate with other healthcare and information technology professionals to create tools that safely promote patient care in an efficient, effective, and timely manner. These tools are patient-centered.


Many may be surprised to learn that computer technology has been involved in medicine as early as the 1950s. Back in the day, the concept was known as medical computing, biomedical computing, medical computer science, computer medicine, medical electronic data processing, medical automatic data processing, medical information processing, medical information science, medical software engineering, and medical computer technology.

The first use of digital computers in medicine involved dental projects in the 1950s. By the mid 1960s, medical research organizations including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) became involved in the development of expert systems. These included MYCIN, an early use of artificial intelligence to identify bacteria that caused infections; Internist-I, a computer-assisted diagnostic tool developed in the 1970s; MEDLINE, a bibliographic database that included references to more than 26 million journal articles in life sciences; MEDLARS, a management system; and the Massachusetts General Hospital utility Multiprogramming system (MUMPS), a programming language system for clinical applications.

Also in the 1960s, Dr. Morris Collen, a physician with Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research, developed computerized systems that automated many health checkups.

In the 1970s, companies involved in computer software started creating and marketing practice management and electronic medical records systems.

Currently, computer-related and software manufacturers are working on systems that assist in physician diagnosis and documentation, patient appointment scheduling, and billing.

The Law And Healthcare Informatics

As a part of this informatics revolution, many healthcare institutions are making patient records available through the Internet. As a result, the law has become an integral part of the discipline. Laws have been created that assure security standards to protect a patient’s records. These laws assure confidentiality, integrity, and security of the people who process and operate the technology.

Safeguarding individual’s personal information in healthcare informatics has led to new laws including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Also known as HIPAA, the law assures that patients control their health records.

The law permits patients to:

College Curriculum

Colleges throughout the United States are offering curriculum in healthcare informatics. Programs are available in which students can earn certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degrees and masters’ degrees.

The Future Of Healthcare Informatics

Look for the discipline to expand into a number of new technologies including: