Over the past few years, the term "Health Informatics" has been accepted increasingly as:
"the knowledge, skills and tools which enable information to be collected, managed, used and shared safely to support the delivery of healthcare and promote health".
This concept is illustrated in the diagram below, which shows how the generic sciences of health care, information and computer technology interact to create the domain of Health Informatics.
The following short video considers what health informatics is, why it's important for health and care provision, and which professional groups are considered to be health informaticians.
What is Professionalism?
A professional is an individual:
who takes responsibility for their own actions;
who adheres to good governance that directs behaviour;
who meets entry and ongoing competence standards;
who abides by an agreed set of ethical and moral principles; and
whose practices contribute to leadership in their profession.
All clinical professions require registration as fit to practice before they can commence a job and since Health Informatics professionals are integral to the clinical team, they should be similarly recognised.
The growing emphasis on patient/client safety, coupled with the increasing complexity of healthcare and social care, sets informatics professionals in these sectors apart from their colleagues in other public services and industry.
In the Health Informatics domain, the safety of patients relies very heavily on the information that supports clinical and management decision making, the management of confidentiality and therefore on the informaticians that develop and run the systems or handle and process the information they contain. Health Informatics is a challenging, multidisciplinary profession and should be recognised as such.
How does this apply to you?
Professionalism is about personal discipline, not something imposed by employers - it is about your own behaviour. You must:
ensure that your skills and knowledge are up to date
do as much as you can to develop your skills and knowledge beyond what the job requires
make sure you perform your daily work in the best possible manner.
As a health informatics professional you are there to protect the public, patients and clients - whatever you do, patient/client safety must be paramount. This means that if the requirements of your employer or anyone else conflict with the safety of your public, then the public need must come first. You must also be able to prove your ability to perform your function and the best way to do this is by passing the certification requirements of your profession. Again these are not the same as the requirements of your employer, who will tend to have a more limited perspective. And as a professional you have a responsibility to develop your profession - you need to be a leader in your field.
Do not take the code of conduct you sign with your professional body for granted - it is what binds us, what make us true professionals. If you need to try to understand professionalism, take as an example the medical profession. Doctors have been practising as professionals for over 500 years. When thinking of your own behaviour think what you would expect a (good) doctor to do. They are not all perfect but they have been doing what they do for a long time and they are the group more trusted by the public than anyone else.