Somehow the thought of computer science, information technology and healthcare joining forces seems like something out of an Orwellian nightmare, but in reality, the three disciplines are anything but cataclysmic when combined! As a matter of fact, when working together, each complements the other so that the end result is extremely improved patient care and often at reduced costs for the provider. Here’s how this works, according to the University of Illinois health informatics department.
The Marriage of Healthcare and Computer Science
The gathering of healthcare data actually takes place from a great number of sources. Typically, this data is collected in hospitals, clinical studies, healthcare providers (i.e. doctors) and from patients themselves responding to questionnaires and surveys. But, what happens to all the data that is collected? It is worth nothing unless it is organized and then analyzed to determine patterns and outcomes.
Unfortunately, there is often tons of data that needs to be sorted through and this is where computer science takes over. The speed at which all that data can be sifted through makes it possible to quickly organize it, analyze it and then put it to use.
Enter Information Technology
All that information that was collected to be analyzed is within the scope of information technology, IT. Through the use of systems, data can be gathered and stored to be retrieved when an analysis needs to be made. What does all that data tell us?
By understanding patterns and outcomes, it is possible to make advances in diagnoses and treatments which results in highly improved patient care. And remember, that is what all this is about anyway, making advances in patient-centered healthcare.
A Closer Look at the Union of Healthcare, Computer Science and Information Technology
So you have health care, which is self-explanatory and computer science which refers to the systems being used plus information technology which is the way in which the system is used to gather, store and retrieve the data. Sound confusing? It really isn’t!
Why? Because a combination of the three disciplines results in a whole new field of study called ‘healthcare informatics.’ Certain aspects of health need to be analyzed so IT gathers the information and then health informatics specialists retrieve it, put it into compartments and then forecast future trends or design new trends to meet needs based on desired outcomes.
The End Result of This Triad Union of Disciplines – Informatics
In the end, both computer science and information technology work together within the healthcare industry, to form a whole new discipline that we call health informatics. Informatics is loosely defined as the processing of data that was collected so that it can be stored, retrieved and analyzed in order to be put to use or simply to understand patterns. So, users could achieve the desired outcomes through the University of Illinois health informatics.
That is informatics, but when used within the field of healthcare it is then labeled health informatics or health care informatics, and this ‘new’ science is a whole field of study all the way up through graduate degrees. Health informatics is the way of the future in assessing the needs of patients and finding IT solutions to improve outcomes – and that’s what you get when computer science, IT and Healthcare join forces.