Medical Informatics FAQ 
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 Medical Informatics FAQ

Archive-name: medical-informatics-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1995/05/30

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Medical Informatics,

This document is intended to answer some frequently asked questions about
medical informatics and the newsgroup  It is posted
each month.  It is periodically updated and all comments and contributions are

Recent changes:

5/30/95: Added: Luebeck medical informatics training site
5/11/95: Added: "What is HL7?" FAQ by Al Stone
5/02/95: Added: UPenn/Philadelphia VAMC Informatics Fellowship listed
4/18/95: Added: 3D Reconstruction Page URL, Vanderbilt Home Page URL


1) What is medical informatics?
2) What is the purpose of the newsgroup?
3) Is this newsgroup available as a "LISTSERV" (mailing list)?
4) Where can I train in medical informatics?
5) What do people trained in Medical Informatics do?
6) How do I learn more about medical informatics?
7) What is HL7?


1) What is medical informatics?

  Simplistic definition: Computer applications in medical care
  Complicated definition:
     Biomedical Informatics is an emerging discipline that has been defined
     as the study, invention, and implementation of structures and
     algorithms to improve communication, understanding and management of
     medical information.  The end objective of biomedical informatics is
     the coalescing of data, knowledge, and the tools necessary to apply
     that data and knowledge in the decision-making process, at the time
     and place that a decision needs to be made.  The focus on the
     structures and algorithms necessary to manipulate the information
     separates Biomedical Informatics from other medical disciplines where
     information content is the focus.
  Yet another:

2) What is the purpose of the newsgroup?

  As stated in the Charter:
     The focus of this newsgroup will be the discussion of the grand
     challenges facing medical informatics today (and tomorrow).  
     Appropriate topics include, but are not limited to:

     * Medical Information Standards (e.g. UMLS, HL-7)
     * Medical Informatics Training
     * IAIMS (Integrated Academic Information Management Systems)
     * Computerized Medical Records
     * Clinical Information Systems  
           (including radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, nursing, etc.)
     * Physician Order Entry Systems
     * Computer-Aided Instruction
     * Medical Expert Systems
     * Nursing Informatics
     * Announcements of Interest, e.g. conferences, journals, societies
     * National Library of Medicine
     * Health Information Networks
     * Medical Software Reviews
     * Research Funding Opportunities
     * Policy Making
           (including procurement and certification of medical software)
     * Medical Software Engineering
     * Cultural/Sociologic Changes
     * Medical Software Security
     * Telemedicine
     * Veterinary Informatics

3) Is this newsgroup available as a "LISTSERV" (mailing list)?

    Not at present.  However, there is a separate medical informatics mailing
    list "MEDINF-L"; to subscribe, send a message "SUBSCRIBE MEDINF-L

    There is also an "Artificial Intelligence in Medicine" mailing list operated
    out of Stanford.  For more information or for a subscription, e-mail  to:

4) Where can I train in medical informatics?

     National Library of Medicine training sites in U.S.:
         Harvard, New England Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Yale,
         Duke-UNC, Oregon Health Sciences U., Rice-Baylor,  U.Missouri,
         Columbia, U. Minnesota
     Some other U.S. programs: Vanderbilt,  Johns Hopkins, Utah, Alabama,
         U.Washington, Harvard/Center for Clinical Computing, U.Penn/
         Philadelphia VA Medical Center
     Outside U.S.: Victoria (Canada), Geneva (Switzerland), Heidelberg/
         Heilbronn (Germany), Hildesheim (Germany), Luebeck (Germany),
         Manchester (UK), Campinas (Brazil)

     Many others exist, some of which are catalogued in the following site:
     Contacts for most of the U.S. programs listed above can be obtained from
         the following WWW page:

5) What do people trained in Medical Informatics do?

  Many people who train in medical informatics have professional degrees in
  a health related area.  Nurses, physicians, medical librarians, and computer
  scientists will each find their professional niche in a different area:
  Consultants with management consulting firms, hospital record managers, data
  analysts, librarians, senior staff in state health departments, programmer/
  analysts in industry, and just good old family doctors.

  Different educational programs have varying expectations for their students
  future careers.  It is best to contact each program to explore the range
  of career opportunities their graduates are prepared for.

6) How do I learn more about medical informatics?

  Popular textbook: Medical Informatics by Shortliffe and Perreault.
  Popular journals: Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association,
        M.D. Computing, Methods of Information in Medicine, Computers and
        Biomedical Research
  Other sources:  Yearbook of Medical Informatics, Proceedings of Symposium on
        Computer Applications in Medical Care, MEDINFO Proceedings
  Good Review article:  Greenes RA.  Shortliffe EH. Medical informatics. An
        emerging academic discipline and institutional priority.
        JAMA.263(8):1990 Feb 23.
  The AI in Medicine FAQ:
  A Few WWW Home-Pages:
        Stanford: http://www.***.com/
        Vanderbilt: http://www.***.com/
        Duke: http://www.***.com/
        Yale: http://www.***.com/
        NASA 3D Reconstruction: http://www.***.com/
  Web search results of "medical informatics"):

7) What is HL7?

  HL7 (Health Level 7) is a specification for electronic data exchange
  between health care institutions, particularly hospitals, and between
  different computer systems within hospitals.  It defines standard
  message types (for example, admit a patient, report a lab result) with
  required and optional data for each.  Messages are defined to be
  independent of computer system and communications protocol, and they
  are constructed so that later versions of the HL7 standard can add
  data elements without "breaking" systems using older versions of HL7.

  HL7 began as a bottom-up movement by system vendors and hospitals to
  replace custom-built system interfaces with a shared standard.  It has
  become the de facto standard for hospital system interfaces in the
  United States.  Other standards in the field include ASC X12N, widely
  used for insurance payment and remittance messages; and the ACR/NEMA
  DICOM standards for radiology images.

  More information on HL7 can be found on the HL7 WWW server:
  There is also an HL7 list server to which you can subscribe by


Acknowledgements: Dean Sittig, Robin Lake, Al Stone, Oliver Niedung, Joseph Hales.

Further submissions, corrections, updates to

(c) 1995 Aamir M. Zakaria

Wed, 08 Jul 1998 03:00:00 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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