This course has been developed by the Department of Health to provide an introduction to health informatics for those moving into the field, although it may also be useful for those already working in health or informatics who wish to expand their knowledge, or for students considering entering a career in health informatics.
The generally accepted definition of health informatics, and the one used in this course, is, 'The knowledge, skills and tools that enable information to be collected, managed, used and shared to support the delivery of healthcare and to promote health and wellbeing'.
Everyone working in health and care services uses information every day as a part of their job. However there are also a growing number of people who specialise in information and ICT, providing essential support for clinicians, patients and managers, in areas such as ICT, information management, health records and clinical coding, education and training or the management of informatics functions.
If you are moving into health informatics it can take a while to understand the structure and set up of health and care services, the language of health and care delivery, as well as some of the basic concepts behind clinical care. You will want to understand how the data and information you collect, produce, manage and communicate supports the modern NHS, and about the specific informatics needs and challenges in health and care. You will also want to understand the context in which new technologies and IT systems operate so that they are designed and implemented with the safety and quality of services to patients and the public at the fore.
This diagram gives a developing overview of the health and care system from April 2013:
Download the full size graphic - Health and Care System: April 2013
Making Information Count, A Human Resources Strategy for Health Informatics Professionals, October 2002, Department of Health