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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Debate

A stimulus to define informatics and health information technology

William Hersh

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2009, 9:24  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-9-24

Published: 15 May 2009



Despite the growing interest by leaders, policy makers, and others, the terminology of health information technology as well as biomedical and health informatics is poorly understood and not even agreed upon by academics and professionals in the field.


The paper, presented as a Debate to encourage further discussion and disagreement, provides definitions of the major terminology used in biomedical and health informatics and health information technology. For informatics, it focuses on the words that modify the term as well as individuals who practice the discipline. Other categories of related terms are covered as well, from the associated disciplines of computer science, information technolog and health information management to the major application categories of applications used. The discussion closes with a classification of individuals who work in the largest segment of the field, namely clinical informatics.


The goal of presenting in Debate format is to provide a starting point for discussion to reach a documented consensus on the definition and use of these terms.