Applied Public Health Informatics: An eHealth Discipline Focused on Populations
The discipline of public health informatics, part of the broader eHealth field, brings methods, knowledge, and theories from computer science and information science to support population health and well-being. This branch of informatics is most often found in governmental public health agencies that focus on population-level activities, including surveillance of disease as well as disease prevention. There are several specialised public health information systems used to prevent or mitigate disease, including syndromic surveillance, electronic laboratory reporting, and population health dashboards. This article defines and describes public health informatics and its role in eHealth. The article further discusses the role of public health information systems and challenges they face for the future. Strengthening public health will require greater investment in interoperability as well as analytics and the workforce. Disease outbreaks like COVID-19, Ebola, and H1N1 demonstrate the need for robust public health informatics applications and methods. Yet there is much work to be done to evolve existing tools and methods to strengthen the public health infrastructure for the next pandemic.
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