What Is Health Care Informatics?

By Lee Grayson

Health care informatics, also known as biomedical informatics, incorporates thousands of American businesses earning billions of dollars each year by providing information hardware and software to the health industry, including hospitals, private physicians' offices, billing services and medical clinics. Informatics employs hundreds of thousands of individuals working as programmers, technology and artificial intelligence (AI) designers, consultants and technicians. Clinical research, nursing, dental, imaging, and public and consumer health are subspecialities of the field.

Medical Software

The central assumption of health care informatics is that computers provide the best foundation for managing information, and specific software must be designed for use in medical applications. HTP, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio, is one company that develops software for hospitals to assist in identifying "insurance eligibility coverage for patients [in order to] maximize reimbursement," according to Healthcare Informatics (HCI). HTP employs 63 individuals and had a revenue of nearly $7.5 million in 2007.

Document Imaging

As medical paperwork is collected, offices and hospitals require technology systems to scan and store the information. Document imaging is used for paper-based medical offices. Perceptive Software, Inc., of Shawnee, Kansas, founded in 1988 and employing 500, offers software that documents "imaging, management and workflow solutions." The company recorded revenues of nearly $10.4 million in 2007, according to the HCI web page.

Medical Office Software

Modern medical offices use technology for daily operations, and informatic providers assist in setting up operations for offices, clinics and hospitals. Medical Present Value, Inc. (MPV), located in Austin, Texas, employs a staff of nearly 100 in delivering "payer compliance tools and services" to assist doctors to "identify and recover underpayments, negotiate contracts, improve workflow efficiency and maximize practice revenue," according to the company website. Revenue earned in 2007 was nearly $12 million dollars, according to HCI web page.

Operations, Systems and Outsourcing

Health care informatics also provides business hardware and software consulting services to assist the daily operations of individual medical offices, medical corporations, and hospitals of all sizes. CSC of Falls Church, Virginia, founded in 1959 and employing over 90,000 workers, offers consulting for "all aspects of the healthcare industry," including governmental organizations, and also provides outsourcing services. CSC's revenue for 2007 was over $1.3 billion dollars. Misys Healthcare Systems, another management systems provider, serves over 110,000 physicians, 1,200 hospitals and 600 homecare providers. The company earned nearly $572 billion in 2007, according to HCI estimates.

Medical Imaging Services

Medical imaging, including X-ray, MRI, and CAT scanning services, is a major component of the health care system. Informatics incorporates storage, transfer and retrieval of the images collected by medical professionals. Agfa HealthCare employs over 7,000 workers in supplying "integrated IT and imaging system solutions" for mammography, orthopedics, radiology and cardiology applications. Agfa HealthCare earned nearly $650 billion in revenue in 2007, according to HCI.

EDI Messaging

Informatics also includes the technological transfer of messages, called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Some companies focus only on this component of the industry while others offer integrated services that incorporate EDI. McKesson, with nearly $300 million in earned revenue for 2008, operates a separate division for EDI that markets a system that "...allows our customers to take text data orders that have been entered into their software packages and electronically communicate them to Supply Management Online (SMO)---our Web-based inventory management and ordering system."

© Demand Media 2011