Health Informatics and Analytics Explained

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past twenty years, you know that we now live in a data-driven age. Statistics, trends, and other helpful information are critical in every field, from professional sports to finance to medicine. Health informatics and analytics have evolved, creating new jobs such as healthcare technicians and health data scientists, even though there is some debate within the industry and academia regarding exactly how the two disciplines differ.

 

How Do Health Informatics and Analytics Differ?

According to AHIMA, the American Health Information Management Association, informatics and analytics combine to help healthcare firms better manage and interpret data to provide higher-quality care. AHIMA defines data analytics literally as the analysis of data. The umbrella organization is more ambiguous with informatics, however, leaving each member organization to view the term according to their preferred use of data. Ultimately, analytics can be viewed as collecting and cataloging information, whereas informatics is the implementation of that sifted, sorted data.

 

What Is Health Informatics?

Respected data scientist, Doctor of Public Health, and professor of health science at New York City College of Technology Angela Laurio defines health informatics as the application of analyzed data to produce effective healthcare IT solutions. Proper integration and implementation aid project management. It also documents and illustrates workflows while acting as a link between developers and users.

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While trained in different technologies, such as electronic health records or web-based apps, informaticists can work in either area and specialize in various disciplines of clinical medicine, biological, regulatory, and social health fields.

 

What Is Data Analytics?

Dr. Laurio agrees with AHIMA on the definition of data analytics but dives a little deeper. As well as collecting and cataloging descriptive and inferential statistics, Dr. Laurio believes the analyst can also develop predictive models and forecasting to better position their agency or firm to deal with evolving trends.

 

Jonathan Mack, Director of Healthcare and Nursing Informatics at the University of San Diego, points out how data analytics makes healthcare more cost-effective by streamlining supply chains, optimizing staff scheduling, and reducing fraud. He also emphasizes the effect data analysis has had in various fields, enabling epidemiologists to better recognize and anticipate potential outbreaks, speed up clinical trials to bring critical new drugs online sooner, and make inroads in genomics and the links between people’s environment and health.

 

How Does Healthcare Analytics Improve Patient Care?

The collection and analysis of healthcare data aid medical professionals in diagnosing and combatting disease on several fronts:

 

COVID-19 Testing

The use of artificial intelligence to analyze mountains of data to reduce waiting times for patients taking COVID tests by as much as 86%.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis

PTSD afflicts many veterans returning from combat duty overseas, as well as police, firefighters, and professionals in other stressful fields. Data analysis helped develop more effective questionnaires to achieve a 90% accuracy rate in diagnosing the condition, enabling sufferers to receive treatment sooner.

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Opioid Addiction

Data analysis provides doctors with informational tools that aid in developing treatment strategies and reducing repeat emergency room visits.

 

The skills of analyzing data and applying the information it reveals are revolutionizing healthcare in the United States. Analysts and informaticists are making doctors’ and nurses’ jobs easier and, in turn, improving patients’ quality of life. While the two fields are indeed different and still evolving, they are integral to the health and well-being of every American.

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