Health informatics is a growing field that is revolutionizing the healthcare landscape and involves how institutions and companies make sense of all the data in our healthcare system. While the concept of health informatics is not new, it is trending as technology advances and patient support becomes even more of a priority. 

In this article, two experts in health informatics share their thoughts on how the field has grown and how to break into the field: Dr. Cedric Truss, chair of the Department of Health Sciences and clinical associate professor at Georgia State University’s Lewis College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Jim Forbes, Chief Strategy Officer at Atlanta-based Vizzia Technologies and a 2023 ATP Technology Service Provider award finalist. 


What is Health Informatics?

Simply put, health informatics (HI) combines health care and information technology, improving the delivery and management of health care services. HI dictates how data is collected, managed, analyzed, secured, and used to improve quality within the health care system or specific organization. 

“Health informatics combines the design, development, and adoption of information technology-based innovations in health care services, delivery, management, and planning,” Truss said. “It emerged and evolved from the intersection of various disciplines, such as computer science, information science, and health care management.”

Other health informatics disciplines include artificial intelligence, data privacy, global health informatics, home care, information security, and telemedicine. 

“The proliferation of IoT-enabled devices within hospitals generates a tremendous amount of data,” Forbes said. “Clinicians are drowning in data and value sophisticated filters that provide actionable data and feed into their existing workflows, such as electronic health records. Smart hospitals want to leverage data that improves processes and increases patient care. Vizzia offers the InVIEW℠ software platform, which was created by clinicians and utilizes sophisticated algorithms for predictive alerts and workflows. We recently conducted a successful pilot at a 500-bed acute care hospital, which yielded a 52% operational improvement.”

Vizza serves some of Georgia’s biggest healthcare systems, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, and Piedmont Healthcare. 


The Benefits of HI

As healthcare systems move toward more efficient and patient-centered care, HI can help patient experiences improve, treatments become more personalized, and medical errors diminish. An article by Northeastern University describes five ways health informatics improves patient care:

  • A reduction in health data errors 

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, healthcare facilities adopting EHRs report a 27 percent drop in medication errors and a 30 percent decrease in redundant testing, yielding $3.12 billion in savings over three years.

  • An increase in efficiency and coordination

HI streamlines administrative duties like appointment scheduling and billing, optimizes workflow, and allows healthcare professionals more time to focus on delivering high-quality patient care.

  • A boost in patient engagement

Accessible data, such as that in a patient portal, helps create transparency within health care, empowering patients to engage in their well-being actively. A survey by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology found that 70 percent of patients utilizing a patient portal felt a stronger connection with their healthcare provider.

  • Improved decision-making

HI equips providers with diagnostic and treatment data from similar cases, aiding their clinical decisions. Real-time analysis and predictive modeling also provide demographic information to support administrative decisions. 

In the article, Jay Spitulnik, associate teaching professor and director of the health informatics graduate program at Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, said, “In the end, one of the biggest things informatics offers health professionals at any level is the support they need to make realistic, legitimate decisions about how to treat patients more effectively and equitably.” 

  • An expansion in access to healthcare

HI expands access via telehealth services, using telecommunication tech like video conferencing and mobile apps. EHRs securely transfer medical data, vital for remote care, especially in rural or underserved areas.


Health Informatics Trends 

University Programs

More than 250 health informatics companies are located in Georgia, and colleges and universities are expanding graduate programs in health informatics to meet the rising demand. 

“GSU is known for being one of the most innovative universities in the country,“ Truss said. “We are known for being responsive to what organizations and companies need in their workforce, and our health informatics offerings are a great example of that. We have an undergraduate bachelor of interdisciplinary studies in health informatics, a graduate certificate in health informatics, and a master of science in health sciences with a concentration in health informatics. The graduate certificate and the masters in health informatics are offered online, providing flexibility to accommodate working professionals looking to advance their education without interrupting their careers.”

GSU’s HI program is an Academic Organizational Affiliate Program member of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which provides free memberships to students while they are enrolled. 


New Developments

New developments in health informatics are continually emerging, driven by advancements in technology and data analytics. Innovations like AI-driven diagnostic tools, telemedicine platforms, and electronic health records are transforming health care. These technologies enhance patient care, streamline operations, and enable personalized medicine, making health informatics a dynamic and rapidly evolving field.

Vizzia is installing its real-time healthcare location systems and data analytics platform at the new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Arthur M. Blank Hospital, a $2 billion, 446-bed project built with leading-edge technology.

Other healthcare systems also need talent to manage these IT needs. Piedmont Healthcare recently named its first chief nursing informatics officer, Mary Kane, MS, RN, NI-BC. She will serve as the strategic liaison for health information technology efforts, representing nurse and clinician needs. 


Key Trends and Future Applications

Truss said that artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to impact health care significantly. 

“AI has the potential to significantly enhance patient care and improve outcomes by enabling providers to make informed decisions quickly,” Truss said. “This technology complements the work of clinicians rather than replacing it. For instance, AI can efficiently scan patient records to predict diseases and other critical illnesses, assisting healthcare professionals in diagnostic and treatment processes.

“There is still much to learn about the full potential of AI in health care. This is an exciting time for health informatics professionals, who will play crucial roles in implementing and improving this technology.”

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