Globally, health information technology (HIT) is utilised as an effective strategy to improve healthcare outcomes and patient care within large healthcare delivery systems. The importance of HIT was recognised in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) because of its value to the U.S. healthcare system.
Health informatics, a rapidly evolving HIT-associated discipline, is becoming a premier healthcare construct in an era of evidence-based management. Although relatively new in practice, health informatics stresses innovative uses of information technology as well as patient and enterprise-wide observational data to improve healthcare outcomes.
Unlike biomedical informatics, there is still no ubiquitous health informatics definition. Instead of limiting its scope, the emerging field embraces interdisciplinary and comprehensive concepts in almost all aspects of health services research and clinical practice. The U.S. National Library of Medicine uses a definition of health informatics as "the interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management and planning."
A broader definition might be that health informatics incorporates the design, optimisation, assessment and decision making of information systems that support research in health services, public health and clinical research, practice and policy. Electronic medical/health records, electronic tracking, computerised clinical decision support systems, computerised provider order entry, clinical alerts and reminder systems are all core technologies in health informatics research. In addition, modelling, mining, standardising, communicating and risk adjusting health and biomedical clinical research data to understand healthcare access, utilisation, efficiency, quality, safety and outcomes have all become integral parts of health informatics practices.
Successful implementation of health informatics innovations depends not only on the buy-in from leadership and administration, but also on the support of clinicians and other healthcare providers. Their experience and practices are vital in assessing the potential value of informatics for all healthcare stakeholders. Patients and their caregivers are now sharing a mounting responsibility for managing their health and making decisions on their healthcare utilisations. Understanding the shared decision making between patients and their providers as well as between patients and caregivers is critical. This knowledge is essential in providing a means to enhance a patient’s ability to self-manage their functionality and quality of life while augmenting the providers’ strategies to reduce unnecessary re-hospitalisation and emergency room visits.
Despite growing interest in the new field, an innovative demonstration of the association between health informatics and health outcomes is lacking. The aim of this special issue is to encourage researchers to exhibit the innovation necessary to clearly expose the value of health informatics as part of the healthcare delivery system and patient-centred care. We seek outstanding studies that generate important empirical findings on the association between health informatics use and resultant health outcomes that will advance the field of health informatics.
Criteria for the selection of original research manuscript will include:
- Innovative use of health informatics technologies.
- Contribution to health outcome research and practice
- Generalisability of the findings to a broader area.
- Clarity of writing and presentation.
- Design, optimisation, assessment and decision making of information systems
- Electronic medical/health records, electronic tracking, computerised clinical decision support systems, computerised provider order entry, clinical alerts and reminder systems
- Modelling, mining, standardising, communicating and risk adjusting health and biomedical clinical research data to understand healthcare access, utilisation, efficiency, quality, safety and outcomes
Deadline for receipt of manuscripts: 15 February, 2013
First round decision for manuscripts: 15 May, 2013