This paper provides an overview of the range and development of health informatics, with examples from the literature world wide covering the types of information involved, the areas of application, the impact of evidence based medicine and other professional issues, integrated information systems, and the needs of the public, patients and their carers. While medical informatics certainly comprises a major part of health informatics it is not the main focus of this paper. Medical informatics is the older term and involves the use of information technology and computing specifically for medical science research, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease involving, for example, X‐rays, imaging, resonance, and magnetic scanning techniques. Rather, the scope of this review is the literature relating to the wider concept of the management of information through the interdisciplinary application of information science and technology for the benefit of patients, scientists, managers, staff, and carers involved in the whole range of healthcare activity.
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