Health informatics is a multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional field focussing on the collection, management, and use of health related data, information and knowledge. By its very nature, health informatics is challenging and complex. Yet it is this complexity that makes it such an intriguing, exciting and rewarding field in which to be involved.
Health Informatics is more about the study of how information is used in healthcare, whether using the videoconferencing or the internet. E-Health is generally associated with the use of telecommunications technology and can therefore be considered as falling within the discipline of Health Informatics.
The Faculty of Health at UTAS recognises e-health and health informatics as essential elements of contemporary health care.
The e-health (health informatics) program has been integral to the activities of the CRH for ten years. The program seeks to enhance the skills and knowledge of health informatics professionals and health professionals in all aspects of health information management.
The Australian Government is committed to e-health and is facilitating the transition of paper-based clinical record keeping to electronic means for better information exchange (Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2011), while the National E-Health Strategy stresses the need to build Australia's e-health skills through changes in vocational and tertiary training programs (AHMAC National E-Health and Information Principal Committee). This includes programs for specifically trained e-health professionals, but also extends to all health professionals.
Health information management is central to the provision of effective and efficient health care, with information and communication technologies being increasingly the tools of choice. Used wisely these tools can facilitate the delivery of more effective, more efficient and more patient-oriented health care. Used badly they may waste time and money, create inefficiencies, and dehumanise our interactions with each other. Health workers who understand and are able to utilise health informatics tools and applications will be more able to influence their use in practice and thereby ensure that they contribute to, rather than detract from health care
Health informatics is a discipline and profession in its own right. The health informatics professional works with a wide range of people, including consumers, health professionals, administrators, information technology professionals and vendors, in many instances playing a pivotal role as information systems are developed, implemented and maintained. The health informatics professional therefore needs broad skills and knowledge which incorporates principals and applications of the information management, and an understanding of organisational culture, change management and innovation diffusion. The program at UTas offers students the opportunity to develop these skills and knowledge, with a particular emphasis on the people aspects of health information management.
Authorised by the Director, Centre for Rural Health
6 January, 2014