Medical Informatics FAQ

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Aamir Zakaria, M.D.

Apr 22, 2004, 7:54:30 AM4/22/04
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

Recent changes:

5/10/03: Updated all links.
5/08/03: Resumed posting with my working e-mail address (sorry for 8-yr delay).


1) What is medical informatics?
2) What is the purpose of the newsgroup?
3) Where can I train in medical informatics?
4) What do people trained in Medical Informatics do?
5) How do I learn more about medical informatics?


1) 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:

2) 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):


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

Further submissions, corrections, updates to

(c) 1995,2003 Aamir M. Zakaria

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