Defining public health informatics

Informatics is the science of how to use data, information and knowledge to improve human health and the delivery of health care services.
So what does this mean?
To address public health problems, and subsequently to support better health outcomes, we have to know what is really happening within communities around the country and world. This information is required for effective public health work, and serves as the first step in large-scale analyses of diseases. But obtaining, exchanging and interpreting large amounts of data can often be difficult.

Informatics is the process by which raw data turn into digestible information and, subsequently, knowledge. Informaticians often act as knowledge architects—they develop blueprints for the information systems that store and transmit health data. Like architects, informaticians consider user needs and legal mandates when planning construction, embracing efficiency, timeliness and privacy.

Informaticians collect data and translate them into a language practitioners can understand so that they can make data-driven decisions to improve public health.

How do we do it?
Informatics synthesizes the theory and practices of computer science, information sciences, and behavioral and management sciences into methods, tools and concepts that lead to efficient information systems. To improve population health, informatics enables effective monitoring and surveillance, ensuring that practitioners have access to timely and accurate data.
Ultimately, public health informatics empowers disease interventions and prevention—leading to better health of individuals and the communities in which they live.
Explore the world of public health informatics
PHII continually creates tools and resources to educate the public health workforce on informatics:
Reframing Public Health Informatics: A Communications Toolkit

For many professionals within public health, communicating the value of public health informatics to leaders is not easy. In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FrameWorks Institute, PHII is pleased to offer free tools to assist in these communications efforts.

Informatics for Everyone
This video series details the ways that informatics can support the work of professionals at all levels of public health agencies, including practitioners, program managers and senior leaders.
Inform Me, Informatics
The podcast examines the field of public health informatics through the lens of its top experts and their stories.
Perceptions and Usage of “Public Health Informatics”
Under a grant from the CDC, PHII conducted a keyword-in-context analysis of academic publications and media mentions to explore current general understanding of the term “public health informatics.”
What is “Informatics?”

An article in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice defines “public health informatics” and summarizes some key recommendations for communicating in this field.

PHII is a program of the Task Force for Global Health, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded as the Task Force for Child Survival in 1984. The Task Force is affiliated with Emory University.