If you loved the super sexy topic of cerumen impaction yesterday…Well, hold on to your socks, because today we will continue our rousing educational foray by tackling the riveting question: What is Clinical Informatics?

Shall we begin?

According to the Oxford dictionary: Informatics is the science of processing data for storage and retrieval. In the most basic sense, this is of course true.

But clinically, what does this even mean?

According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), within informatics there are at least five distinct areas of concentration: Translational Bioinformatics, Consumer Informatics, Clinical Research Informatics, Public Health Informatics and Clinical Informatics. As medical providers, for obvious reasons, we are most familiar with clinical informatics.

Clinical Informatics sits at the cross-section of people, technology, and information. The people are the doctors, patients, nurses, techs, and SWs that keep the system going. The tech refers to the devices (mobile or otherwise), software, or algorithms that shepherds our daily lives. The information is the big data that is generated in and outside of the chart (patient demographics, medical history, vitals, labs, imaging, medications, coding, provider note etc.) In this way, Clinical Informatics acts as an umbrella or catch-all term.

Over the next few posts, we will do a deeper dive on clinical informatics subtopics of clinical decision support systems (CDSS), computerized provider order entry systems (CPOEs), health information exchange (HIE), and mhealth.

For now, I think we can attempt to answer the title question of this pearl in earnest…What is Clinical Informatics?

Clinical Informatics is the ability to turn patient data into information, which can then be leveraged as knowledge, in order to addresses a specific problem or optimize workflow with clinical wisdom.

Eat it Oxford.

August 2022
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