Health informatics refers to the "...information discipline that combines information science, medicine and health care". As such, it deals with the devices and methods needed to optimize storage, retrieval and use of digital health information in biomedicine from bench to bedside. However, the focus of health informatics within health care is the use of information technology to deliver patient care including the ability to:
use computers to manage systems, research, learning and policy
improve health outcomes and processes for physicians and patients
build collaborations among groups and sectors including consumers, providers, educators, researchers, clinicians
develop international leaders in research
maintain strong ethical standards
The field deals with understanding the meaning and use of health information to support clinical care, health administration, research and teaching. Health informaticists have knowledge and skills in information management derived from several disciplines as the field deals with the resources, devices and methods needed to optimize the storage, retrieval and usage of information in medicine. While MI utilizes computers and health information across a spectrum of care, and places importance on the electronic patient record, HI encompass a range of tools such as clinical guidelines, medical terminologies and communication systems. Subdomains of biomedical or health care informatics include: clinical informatics, nursing informatics, imaging informatics, consumer health informatics, public health informatics, dental informatics, clinical research informatics, bioinformatics and pharmacy informatics. Rapid development of health informatics is due to advances in computer technology and a heightened awareness that medicine's knowledge-base is unmanageable using traditional paper-based methods.
COACH - Canada's Health Informatics Association founded in 1975, is a leading and growing organization with a membership in excess of 750. It is in the forefront of the Canadian healthcare information resource and technology field by working co-operatively with health institutions, professions, associations, consultants, vendors of information technology and applications, government and regulatory organizations in the persuit of its mandate.
National Institutes of Health Informatics (NIHI) is Canada’s first national organization dedicated to fostering health informatics (HI) in research and education. As a virtual, self-sustaining institute of institutes, NIHI facilitates the development of a diversity of local initiatives dedicated to HI research and education. It is not an educational organization, but rather a catalyst for facilitating research and education at its component entities. NIHI has been launched with the participation of researchers and teachers from Canadian universities and colleges with existing or incipient health informatics education or research programs.