Public Health Informatics: Positioning Within an Informatics Framework

Public Health Within an Informatics Framework

This chapter aims to articulate public health informatics (PHI) within a primarily informatics framework. This feeds into Chapter 2, which situates PHI within a primarily public health perspective, enabling the development of a more holistic conceptualization on PHI. This chapter sketches out the landscape of PHI situated within the larger context of health and medical informatics as well as informatics for primary healthcare, which taken together, help to define the scope of this domain.

As a first step, we discuss within a historical perspective the broader discipline of informatics, or information systems, as it is often popularly called. This brief historical tracking helps to understand how the primary influence on health informatics has been the field of informatics and its application to business, rather than from a strong public health perspective. Next we position PHI semantically and conceptually among informatics in general: health informatics, medical informatics, and bioinformatics, in particular. This helps to elucidate on what is the distinctive focus of PHI, what this domain covers, and how different health information systems (HIS) relate to, but are not in themselves descriptive of PHI.

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