Medical Informatics: An inventive approach for optimal healthcare!

health_computing_genericTHE LIMITS of medical sciences have rarely been as thrilling and as full of opportunity as it is these days. From basic science through medical research to health services research, the opportunity made available through the inspirational advances of modern decades in the biomedical, physical, computational, and social sciences have brought us to a place of terrific revelation. The past three decades have witnessed an incredible development in the power and capabilities of computing technology, with a synchronized renovation in many aspects of our society, including medicine and healthcare. Contemporary medical centres have become dependent on computers and network communications, and experts in biomedical computing are now decidedly valued as key contributors to the environments in which care is delivered and health data is managed.

There has been an eruption in knowledge and information management activity, particularly in healthcare segment over the past few years. The world has progressed a lot in the field of healthcare by making widespread use of information-based system. This has not only made the entire healthcare system learning and curing but also has benefited terrifically the doctors and patients to mutually enhance the performance of healthcare. Healthcare delivery is a high-touch responsibility that involves interaction between all stakeholders within the healthcare environment. Interpersonal communication is a key element of this interaction and can be transformed by the intelligent use of technology.

Development of efficient health information systems requires understanding of medical informatics, the systematic application of information and computer science technology to health practice, research and learning. Medical informatics is the swiftly growing scientific field that bond with resources, devices, and formalized methods for optimizing the storage, retrieval and management of biomedical information for problem solving and decision making.

The appearance of medical informatics as a discipline is due in large part to progress in computing and communication technology, to an growing awareness that biomedical facts and clinical information about patients are efficiently unmanageable by traditional paper-based methods, and to growing conviction that the processes of knowledge retrieval and expert decision making are as important to modern biomedicine as the fact base on which clinical decisions or research plans are made.

Medical informatics has become significant at this time because of improvements in information technology, new challenges to the public health system, and changes in the healthcare delivery system. In the case of medical informatics, there are four principles, flowing directly from the scope and nature of health, that distinguish it from other subjects.  These four standards describe, direct, and offer the circumstance for the types of activities and challenges that comprise this new field:

1.  The primary focus of medical informatics should be on applications of information science and technology that promote the health of populations. As a discipline, medical informatics focuses on the health of the population and the community.

2.  Medical informatics should focus on the information and technology that prevent disease and injury by changing the situation or the environment that put populations or individuals at risk.

3.  Medical informatics applications should explore the potential for prevention at all vulnerable points in the causal chains leading to disease, injury, or disability; applications should not be restricted to particular social, behavioral, or environmental contexts.

4.  As a discipline, medical informatics should reflect the governmental context in which public health is practiced. Much of public health manage through government agencies that entail direct responsiveness to legislative, regulatory, and policy directives, careful balancing of competing priorities, and open disclosure of all activities.

Furthermore, medical informatics is a key element of the practice of evidenced-based medical education. Students with a web-based medical education can study more efficiently and make sound judgments regarding the clinical problems they encounter during their practical life. The curriculum adopted in the mainstream medical institutes of developed countries is replaced by a number of new teaching methods that improve dynamic learning but regrettably we are still stuck to the old traditional methods of teaching based on lectures and memorization. Presently large numbers of private and public medical institutes in Pakistan are still teaching by traditional methods whereas most of the medical institutes in the developed world are training their future physicians by latest teaching tools like evidenced-based and problem-based learning.

We must recommit ourselves to our teaching missions by energetically pursuing strategies that support and recognize the invaluable contributions of teaching faculty to the preservation of these missions. We must continuously innovate and utilize innovative methods like medical informatics as a tool to help us to attain our mission to produce physicians of 21st century. We should produce the healthcare providers who have the knowledge, attitude, aptitude and clinical skills.

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