The Evolution of Medical Informatics as a Coherent Academic Discipline
Type of Degreedissertation
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The purpose of this content analysis was to ascertain the prevalent themes, the challenges that exist, and future directions for the medical informatics (MI) discipline. Seven scholarly publications from the ten-year period of 2002 – 2011 provided the data. The sample included article texts collected from the MI publications Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and International Journal of Medical Informatics. Additional data came from the related fields of medicine—the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine—and management information systems—Management Information Systems Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. All published article texts were collected from the medical informatics publications for the ten-year period. For those publications outside the MI mainstream, advanced Boolean queries identified articles for collection. A total of 2,315 (2,188 retained) article texts were collected. The first phase of the mixed methods approach was quantitative and applied Centering Resonance Analysis (CRA) to identify themes in the data. The second, qualitative phase consisted of manually coding the data against categories developed from the literature review. CRA identified the following 10 themes emerging from the literature: Analytics, Healthcare Operations and Standards (with sub-themes: Operations, Project Management, and Information Assurance), Aspects of Healthcare Research, Knowledge Transfer/Communication (with sub-themes: Extending beyond the Organization, Internal to the Organization, and Patient-Provider), Perceptions and Managing Expectations of Information Technology, and Software as a Service. The manual coding identified that 34.5% (755) of the articles addressed Information Architecture, 34.1% (746) addressed Direct Patient Care, 10.7% (235) addressed Relative Advantage, and 1.9% (41) addressed Compatibility. The themes discovered indicate the discipline consists of information systems, healthcare, operations, communication, and research. With continuing legislation emphasizing digital health records, dramatic and rapid improvements in technology, and the ever-pressing need to reduce healthcare costs, the demand for medical informatics is great. Although medical informatics is young, the field has established deep roots and a strong foundation. We can expect to see persistent growth and maturity in the field as scholars, practitioners, and researchers continue to provide value to the healthcare of the ever-increasing population.