The application of Information Technology in healthcare, now generally known as Health Informatics, is a complex and intellectually demanding interdisciplinary field in which Medicine, Computer Science, Management Science, Statistics and Engineering are all represented. Health Informatics is no longer viewed as a peripheral issue but rather as a central means of improving the overall safety, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery.
The Centre for Health Informatics was established by Prof. Jane Grimson and Prof. Rory O' Moore in 1991 and is housed in the School of Computer Science and Statistics. The Centre focuses on education, research and engagement in Health Informatics. The Centre runs a very successful MSc in Health Informatics and designs and delivers Health Informatics education at PhD, MSc and undergraduate level. The Centre's research has focused on the design of Electronic Healthcare Record Systems to facilitate intelligent delivery of quality information to support and transform healthcare. This interdisciplinary research involves the centre engaging with EHR users, clinical information officers, healthcare IT experts, information standards bodies and regulatory bodies.
Thanks to the Centre's Health Informatics education, graduates of the SPHERE PhD program, MSc in Global Health, and the BSc in Nursing understand the principles of health information quality and recognize health IT opportunities. The Centre's MSc in Health Informatics has produced 200 MSc graduates since 1999. These HI experts form a critical mass in the Irish Health Informatics community as leaders in HIQA, eHealth Ireland's Council of Clinical Information Officers, the HSE's Office of the Chief Information Officer, throughout the HSE, as well as consultancy and entrepreneur roles. Seven PhDs have graduated through the Centre.
The Centre and its members are invited members of and play active roles in the e-Health Ireland Ecosystem working group, the NSAI/OOCIO Design Authority advisory group, the board of the Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland, the board of the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI).
Healthcare is an information intensive industry generating enormous volumes of data every day in hospitals, GP surgeries, clinics and laboratories, and more recently from patients, their devices and online activity. Yet most of this data continues to be processed manually limiting its usefulness for healthcare service delivery, evolution and research. The Centre for Health Informatics' research is concerned with how to leverage the myriad streams of health and wellbeing related information and context for the benefit of both individuals and populations. This research is building on the CHI-led projects, OpenLabs, Synapses, Synex, Medilink, AitEile and Solas. Synapses, an EU-funded project, resulted in the development of the ISO/CEN EN13606 EHR communication standard.
Due to advances in areas such as genomics, mobile health and analytics the variety, precision and personalisation of information is increasing along with the potential to extract value from it. As innovation is embraced and creative solutions evolve, a solid foundation in processes to determine needs assessment, user requirements and their relationship to EHR system requirements and design are essential to success. Without knowing what users want/need, their frame of reference and how these can fit in with plans for EHRs there is a high risk of failure. The Centre's current research continues to ensure appropriate use, communication and quality of information.