So what exactly is the American Medical Informatics Association? There’s no question that the health care field is an enormous profession. And if you’ve ever had to navigate its many disciplines, as a patient, a student, or as a professional, it can be very frustrating. While it would seem that some of these disciplines would be natural fits in terms of support and information exchange, traditionally, some of them can be very insular. But as technology allows us to progress further and further down the digital highway, that mutual frustration is being increasingly offset by specialties such as medical informatics across the health care industry as a whole.
What Exactly Is Informatics?
No, it’s not a typo. Informatics refers to the process in which computer science assists medical science in successfully exchanging information. This has sometimes been humorously referred to as a RN/MD IT department. Make no mistake, those who specialize in informatics are fully trained and qualified medical specialists, coming from fields all across the health care industry spectrum. In addition to being medical professionals, these individuals have a deep understanding of and ability to use various analytic systems. The objective of informatics is to exchange information both within and across heath care disciplines more accurately and quickly, with the overall goals being a better exchange of medical-related information and better care for patients.
Is Informatics A True Health Care Discipline?
Informatics has been a recognized specialty since the late 20th century by nursing, medical research, alternative medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical care, and public health. A nursing student who chooses to specialize in informatics, for example, would be officially designated as a nurse informaticist, or NI. His or her area of work would focus on communication, information technology, or software analysis, or perhaps a combination of all three. While a NI will have a nursing educational background, and often some experience in directly working with patients, as a NI, he or she will focus on interpreting, maintaining, and improving pertinent informatics technology. Training for such a discipline includes education on how to conduct real-time data analysis and research, which means additional technological education in addition to traditional nursing programs.
The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)
The field of informatics specialists has rapidly grown over the last couple of decades from a few far-sighted pioneers to a true profession. And like any other profession, this field is most effective when served by a true professional organization. Founded in 1988, with the merger of three separate medically oriented informatics organizations, the purpose of the AMIA is twofold. It helps specialists within the health field’s informatics specialties improve on techniques and communicating information with one another, and it offers members across informatics opportunities in continuing education. Functions of the AMIA include offering professional conferences and seminars in addition to offering members opportunities for fellowships, obtain advanced certifications in informatics, and to join informatics working groups. AMIA also makes members aware of opportunities for professional discounts and offers a electronic newsletter with breaking informatics news and updates.
So is the American Medical Informatics Association an organization worth joining? For those health care professionals specializing in informatics, it certainly is. With the AMIA’s support, these specialists can continually excel in this field, meaning not only continually improving medical technology, but better overall patient care.