Steven Entezari

Why and how is HCI relevant for Health Informatics?
Health informatics is a field that has been a “long time coming”, yet one that is far ahead of its time. The ability to create knowledge out of mere data-points regarding the human body has, and will continue to, advance the art and science of human medicine into a longer and more prosperous future. The inclusion of human computer interaction, a field of study which emphasizes end-user interactions and experiences, generates the perfect dynamic to identify and explore greater realms of human-health by enhancing the translation of vast amounts of data to understandable and usable information. Health informatics and human computer interaction have a unique opportunity to demystify elements of human health phenomenon that have either been too big, or too wide-spread to understand by any inter-disciplinary domain. The unique perspective of user-centered design and reduction of cognitive load via computer mediated elements, like information visualizations and evaluation studies, can greatly enhance the ability of health informatics practitioners to get a better grasp of the data they have. While person-specific data is an essential element of health informatics, there are many other philosophical issues that can be addressed by a robust understanding of health informatics and human computer interaction. Ethical concerns for privacy, security, and legislative changes are implications of both HI and HCI. Understandings and adaptations within either realm can have major implications and direct the philosophical movements of the other. For instance, grasping an overall understanding regarding ownership of electronic health records and the storage/retrieval methods within health informatics can drastically impact policies on the ownership of personal information across the web. Security protocols developed in either realm will establish a basis for the other. These ethical subjects are domains where, I believe, the ideas and technology exist today, but the correct combination of either/and each of them have not been made perfectly. It’s just a matter of time until the correct combination emerges in either field, is validated, and is adapted for the other. Another exciting element of human computer interaction’s relevance within health informatics is the communication aspect. Through the understandings of computer mediated communication within HCI, there creates many great possibilities to transfer these concepts to the very sensitive realm of medical information management. Understandings of either the HCI domain or the HI domain will impact the development and understanding of its corresponding field of study for both raw-data and ethical elements.

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