According to Digital Health Canada, HI involves the application of information technology to facilitate the creation and use of health-related data, information and knowledge.
It enables and supports all aspects of safe, efficient and effective health services (e.g., planning, research and development, organization, provision and evolution of services, etc.)
Examples of HI applications include the design, development, implementation, maintenance and evaluation of:
Competencies are the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and judgments required to perform safely and effectively in abroad range of environments and practice settings.
Source: Health Informatics Professional Core Competencies - Digital Health Canada
Health Informatics finds application in various sub specializations within healthcare.
Public health informatics has been defined as the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practice, research, and learning.
Consumer Health Informatics helps bridge the gap between patients and health resources. It is devoted to informatics from a patient's point of view. The Consumer Health Informatics Working Group (CHIWG) of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) define it as "the use of modern computers and telecommunications to support consumers in obtaining information, analyzing unique health care needs and helping them make decisions about their own health".
The application of informatics and information technology to deliver healthcare services.” This classification of health informatics refers directly to the tools, technologies and tactics used directly by clinicians in their delivery of care. can refer to using information science in connection with anything from electronic medical records to diagnostic tools like radiology and pathology.
Clinical Research Informatics involves the use of informatics in the discovery and management of new knowledge relating to health and disease. It includes management of information related to clinical trials and also involves informatics related to secondary research use of clinical data. Clinical research informatics and translational bioinformatics are the primary domains related to informatics activities to support translational research.
This is an interdisciplinary field that develops methods and software tools for understanding biological data, in particular when the data sets are large and complex. As an interdisciplinary field of science, bioinformatics combines biology, computer science, information engineering, mathematics and statistics to analyze and interpret the biological data.
This specialty integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. Much like clinical informatics, this field of study is aimed at supporting clinical caregivers, in this case nurses, in their practice and in their ability to support and care for patients.
This is a multi-disciplinary field that seeks to improve health care through the application of Health Information Technology (HIT) and information science to dental health care delivery, information management, health care administration, research, information gathering and synthesis, and knowledge sharing.
Also known as radiology informatics or medical imaging informatics, it is a subspecialty of biomedical informatics that aims to improve the efficiency, accuracy, usability and reliability of medical imaging services within the healthcare enterprise. It is devoted to the study of how information about and contained within medical images is retrieved, analyzed, enhanced, and exchanged throughout the medical enterprise.
This is scientific field that focuses on medication-related data and knowledge within the continuum of healthcare systems—including its acquisition, storage, analysis, use and dissemination—in the delivery of optimal medication-related patient care and health outcomes.
Several institutions in Ontario and across Canada offer programs in Health Informatics at different levels. You have studying options from certificate programs to postgraduate.
Despite the promise of digital health, there are some skepticism.
Online mental health support is impersonal and ineffective so Canadians aren’t interested in using it.
In a 2019 study, 58% of Canadians said they were interested in using e-mental health tools
Canadians don't have online access to their health information.
In 2019, most Canadians could access their personal health information electronically — a significant increase from 2015. Provincial and regional portals are now available for all citizens in Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan as well as many in Ontario and British Columbia. Many Canadians in British Columbia and Ontario have also been accessing their lab results through lab service providers
Canadians aren’t comfortable with their health information being shared electronically between doctors and other health care professionals that care for them
A 2017 study indicated 85% of Canadians agree that doctors and other health care professionals require timely and easy access to patients' health information so they can provide high quality care. Sharing health information electronically through digital health allows for more timely access to information, which enables Canadians to receive better quality care, more efficiently. Electronic health records (EHRs) allow doctors to see patients’ complete health information, saving time and reducing the need to order duplicate tests. In fact, 77% of Canadians reported they are comfortable with their health information being shared through EHR systems with providers on their care team
Health care is a big growing industry in Ontario as well as Canada. Almost 50% of Ontario’s provincial budget is spent on its health care. And with the constant need to keep up with the patients and provide them with the utmost quality care, the health industry has evolved with technologies helping create diverse roles and jobs for professionals in IT and healthcare. The career wheel shown here shows some major roles students will be able to pursue after their certifications in Health Informatics.
The career path can evolve as you get more experienced. The two charts below shows some opportunities that can be pursued as emerging professionals and competent levels in the world of digital health.