What is public health informatics? Compare public health informatics with other health
informatics domains (i.e., nursing, biomedical, pharmacy, etc.). Identify a public health
challenge and describe how public health informatics tools and methodologies can be
applied to address that challenge.
According to Edmunds et al. (2014), informatics in the public health domain describes the
effective utilization of information and communication technology (IT) in improving population
health outcomes. Most fundamentally, it leads to the assurance that suitable technological
devices and applications are used in delivering quality and timely data and the facilitation of
decision-making processes based on data. The attainment of these objectives necessitates the
optimization of information in ways that boost or enhance an individual’s overall well-being,
research in biomedical operations, health policies, and practices (Edmunds et al. 2014).
Although informatics has been used extensively in almost all activities carried out by
medical providers daily, it remains a relatively new concept to most clinicians. As such, the use
of informatics across biomedical, nursing, public health, and pharmacy practices differ
significantly depending on the interpretation of the information and its application in the
decision-making processes aimed at fostering the welfare of the patient. For instance, health
informatics focuses on harnessing patient care improvement through innovative health delivery
systems (Leider et al. 2017). This way, health informatics applications that include the electronic
health records (EHR) foster communication between nurses and providers, in general, on patient
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information in a seamless manner across outpatient clinics, emergency departments, inpatient
floors, and peri-operative spaces. On the other hand, pharmacy informatics has substantially
improved the preciseness in the prescription and administration of medications. The
improvement of these processes has occurred by integrating information, data-automation, and
technology practices in medication use. This way, patient care, and outcome practices have been
streamlined, while the accuracy and efficiency in the administration of medications have been
enhanced significantly (Edmunds et al. 2014).
Despite the achievements and benefits associated with public health informatics, several
barriers hinder the attainment of more goals or the extensive use of information technology in
this domain. Some of these barriers include financial constraints, staff capacity and training, lack
of regionalization, and increased dependency on state health agencies (Leider et al. 2017).
Nonetheless, the use of informatics tools and methodologies in public health could address these
barriers by providing real-time and geographically-specific data to advance administrative
practices in service delivery (Edmunds et al. 2014).
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Edmunds, M., Thorpe, L., Sepulveda, M., Bezold, C., & Ross, D. A. (2014). The future of
public health informatics: Alternative scenarios and recommended strategies. eGEMs
(Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes), 2(4), 3.
Leider, J. P., Shah, G. H., Williams, K. S., Gupta, A., & Castrucci, B. C. (2017). Data, Staff,
and Money: Leadership Reflections on the Future of Public Health Informatics. Journal
of Public Health Management and Practice, 23(3), 302-310.