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GMDS 2012: 57. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V. (GMDS)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie

16. - 20.09.2012, Braunschweig

What moves us in/toward the future? – From the viewpoint of informatics

Meeting Abstract

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  • Alexa McCray - Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

GMDS 2012. 57. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e.V. (GMDS). Braunschweig, 16.-20.09.2012. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. Doc12gmds002

DOI: 10.3205/12gmds002, URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-12gmds0025

Published: September 13, 2012

© 2012 McCray.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en). You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


Outline

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Biomedical informatics is a field in transition, much like the fields with which it intersects. Traditionally, the field has developed methodologies, techniques, and applications with the goal of improving the processes involved in health care delivery. While that goal is still a strong and stated goal, the field has grown to encompass the full spectrum of information needs of the life sciences. Bench scientists, clinicians and clinical researchers, public health analysts, policy makers, and patients and their families are all faced with large and often overwhelming amounts of data that need to be processed, filtered, managed, and, ultimately, understood.

It is no longer possible, for example, for the bench scientist to conduct research solely within the confines of the wet lab. Access to public databases of biological data is only the first step for such a scientist. Without the tools to manipulate, visualize, and analyze the data, the scientist is at a loss. Similarly, the practicing clinician and the hospital in which the care is carried out can no longer function without the infrastructure afforded by electronic health records and hospital information systems. Billing and scheduling have always been necessary components of such systems, but many other components are needed, including, for example, decision support, computerized physician order entry, electronic alerts, and methods for measuring and ensuring quality and safety.

For both the clinician and the clinician researcher, the discoveries resulting from the Human Genome Project not only have enormous implications for research and practice in medicine but also bring with them data that need to be integrated and understood in the clinical context. In principle, today’s technology allows public health analysts to have unprecedented access to health information about large numbers of individuals across local, regional, national, and even international borders. In practice, however, many policy and other barriers still exist, such as lack of agreement on technical standards that would ensure interoperability among institutional and geographically dispersed systems.

Finally, because there is now an enormous amount of health information freely available on the Internet, patients and their families are able to search any health topic and find everything from comprehensive health websites, to blogs, to support groups, to commercial sites whose primary purpose is to sell a product. Making sense of the sometimes contradictory information found, evaluating its credibility, and being able to interpret what is found, are all issues faced by the public as they attempt to navigate this landscape. New patient-oriented technology is needed, including tools, devices, and systems that support evidence-based decision-making.

The field of biomedical informatics is inexorably driven forward by modern science and technology. Those of us who conduct research in this field recognize its inherent interdisciplinarity, and, therefore, we also recognize that significant advances can only be made if we understand each other’s methods and techniques and work together to solve some of the most challenging issues of our time.