What is Informatics?

Before determining what informatics is, let's understand a few things it is NOT.

It is NOT Drug Information, though it can be used to facilitate the discovery of such information.

It is NOT pharmacoeconomics, though it can be used to perform such studies.

It is NOT pure information technology or computer science though skills from those disciplines can be used, they are not required.

There are several definitions for the term informatics. It was first used by the Russian scientist A.I. Mikhailov, in 1966, who included the definition in his book Oznovy Informatiki  as "...that scientific discipline that studies the structure and general properties of scientific information and the laws of all processes of scientific communication."

The British Medical Informatics Society defines Medical Informatics as"...the understanding, skills, and tools that enable the sharing and use of information to deliver healthcare and promote health".

A third defintion is put forward by theAmerican Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and is probably one of the better definitions.  They state "...informatics has to do with all aspects of understanding and promoting the effective organization, analysis, management, and use of information".

Quite simply put, informatics can be defined as that discipline that assists in the translation of raw data into actionable knowledge, i.e., something that could be used, and the dissemination of that knowledge to other individuals including health care professionals and consumers.We have defined pharmacy informatics as that subspecialty of informatics which is applied directly to pharmaceutical care.

Notice that the emphasis is on the use of information and not the underlying tools, most often but not always based on information technology, used to manipulate the information.

Update Notice

As of June 2013 this site is undergoing a major renovation. After years of stagnation we are putting some effort into bringing this site up-to-date and hopefully provide some relevant information.