Medical Informatics FAQ


Aamir Zakaria

Archive-name: medical-informatics-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2003/05/10

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Medical Informatics,

This document is intended to answer some frequently asked questions about medical informatics and
the newsgroup It is posted each month. It is periodically updated and all
comments and contributions are welcome.

Recent changes:

5/10/03: Updated all links.
5/10/04: Resumed posting with my working e-mail address (sorry for 8-yr delay).


6) What is medical informatics?
7) What is the purpose of the newsgroup?
8) Where can I train in medical informatics?
9) What do people trained in Medical Informatics do?
10) How do I learn more about medical informatics?


11) What is medical informatics?

Simplistic definition: Computer applications in medical care Better definition: Biomedical
Informatics is an emerging discipline that has been defined as the study, invention, and
implementation of structures and algorithms to improve communication, understanding and management
of medical information. The end objective of biomedical informatics is the coalescing of data,
knowledge, and the tools necessary to apply that data and knowledge in the decision-making
process, at the time and place that a decision needs to be made. The focus on the structures and
algorithms necessary to manipulate the information separates Biomedical Informatics from other
medical disciplines where information content is the focus. Even better:

12) What is the purpose of the newsgroup?

As stated in the Charter: The focus of this newsgroup will be the discussion of the grand
challenges facing medical informatics today (and tomorrow). Appropriate topics include, but are
not limited to:

* Medical Information Standards
* Medical Informatics Training
* IAIMS (Integrated Academic Information Management Systems)
* Computerized Medical Records
* Clinical Information Systems (including radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, nursing, etc.)
* Physician Order Entry Systems
* Computer-Aided Instruction
* Medical Expert Systems
* Nursing Informatics
* Announcements of Interest, e.g. conferences, journals, societies
* National Library of Medicine
* Health Information Networks
* Medical Software Reviews
* Research Funding Opportunities
* Policy Making (including procurement and certification of medical software)
* Medical Software Engineering
* Cultural/Sociologic Changes
* Medical Software Security
* Telemedicine
* Veterinary Informatics

3) Where can I train in medical informatics?

National Library of Medicine training sites in U.S.: Harvard, New England Medical Center,
Pittsburgh, Stanford, Yale, Duke-UNC, Oregon Health Sciences U., Rice-Baylor, U.Missouri,
Columbia, U. Minnesota Some other U.S. programs: Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, Utah, Alabama,
U.Washington, Harvard/Center for Clinical Computing, U.Penn/ Philadelphia VA Medical Center
Outside U.S.: Victoria (Canada), Geneva (Switzerland), Heidelberg/ Heilbronn (Germany),
Hildesheim (Germany), Luebeck (Germany), Manchester (UK), Campinas (Brazil)

Many others exist, some of which are catalogued in the following site:

4) What do people trained in Medical Informatics do?

Many people who train in medical informatics have professional degrees in a health related area.
Nurses, physicians, medical librarians, and computer scientists will each find their professional
niche in a different area: Consultants with management consulting firms, hospital record managers,
data analysts, librarians, senior staff in state health departments, programmer/ analysts in
industry, and just good old family doctors.

Different educational programs have varying expectations for their students future careers. It is
best to contact each program to explore the range of career opportunities their graduates are
prepared for.

5) How do I learn more about medical informatics?

Popular textbook: Medical Informatics by Shortliffe and Perreault. Popular journals: Journal of
the American Medical Informatics Association,
M.D. Computing, Methods of Information in Medicine, Computers and Biomedical Research Other
sources: Yearbook of Medical Informatics, Proceedings of Symposium on Computer
Applications in Medical Care, MEDINFO Proceedings Good Review article: Greenes RA.
Shortliffe EH. Medical informatics. An emerging academic discipline and institutional
priority. JAMA.263(8):1990 Feb 23. A Few WWW Home-Pages: American Medical Informatics
Association (AMIA): Vanderbilt: Stanford: Duke: http://dmi-


Acknowledgements: Dean Sittig, Robin Lake, Al Stone, Oliver Niedung, Joseph Hales.

Further submissions, corrections, updates to <[email protected]>

(N) 1995,2003 Aamir M. Zakaria