Health informatics

Enrico W Coiera
Med J Aust 2002; 176 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04253.x
Published online: 7 January 2002

Informatics aims to fix the "pathologies" in the information systems used to deliver healthcare. If physiology literally means "the logic of life", and pathology is "the logic of disease", then health informatics is the logic of healthcare.1 It is the rational study of how we think about patients and how treatments are defined, selected and evolved. The tools of informatics are likely to be clinical guidelines, formal medical languages, information systems, or communication systems like the Internet. Our understanding of information system pathologies in healthcare has advanced rapidly over the past decade, with the advent of evidence-based medicine and the focus on error reduction and improvement in the quality and safety of care.

  • Centre for Health Informatics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052.


  • 1. Coiera E. Guide to medical informatics, the Internet and telemedicine. London: Arnold, 1997.
  • 2. Bates D, Cohen M, Leape L, et al. Reducing the frequency of errors in medicine using information technology. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2001; 8: 301-308.
  • 3. Rind D, Safran C, Phillips RS, et al. Effect of computer-based alerts on the treatment and outcomes of hospitalized patients. Arch Intern Med 1994; 154: 1511-1517.
  • 4. Kuperman G, Sittig DF, Shabot M, Teich J. Clinical decision support for hospital and critical care. J Health Inform Manage Syst Soc 1999; 13: 81-96.
  • 5. Davis D, Thomson O'Brien MA, Freemantle N, et al. Impact of formal continuing medical education — do conferences, workshops, rounds, and other traditional continuing education activities change physician behaviours or health outcomes? JAMA 1999: 282; 867-874.


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