Biomedical Informatics deals with information (biological information) and its processing. Biomedical informatics provides a unique platform for the medi-care professionals to share with each other what they have learnt, or observed, and put it in a form which is immediately available to other colleagues.
Generally, when you visit your physician or a hospital, either for yourself, or accompanying someone else, or looking up a patient, you would find in the lounge or in the Doctor’s room, a number of magazines dealing with health, and some research oriented pamphlets from physician’s associations, the most famous of which is the Lancet, according to this author. There are various publications for each specialty in the medical profession, and these disseminate information to the physician about his field, of the newer developments in his area, and the kinds of patients that came up for diagnosis elsewhere, and pointing out newer facets of that disease, which would be helpful to other physicians. In other words, a corporate magazine which keeps all informed in an office, but with a difference.
This is biomedical informatics at work. Informatics means information network, use of information channels, and now its exclusive domain meaning is ‘use of computers’ to spread the requisite information through computers. Thus the physician is no longer bundled to scan through magazines to look for something which occurs to him, or is looking for some detail which is currently occupying his mind in finding a right diagnosis, and wonders what more is happening.
That is precisely one of the areas in which Biomedical Informatics is flourishing, since it provides an online, all time available, database of various diseases, their various forms, signs, symptoms, and other information, which can help educate a physician even in a remote place.
In fact, some of the software that has been exclusively designed for medical professionals are such that by keying some major indicators, which only the physician can do, a stream of choices of possible symptoms and diseases, or a flip down page, asking for more details crops up, and when filled, it searches the databases existing anywhere and everywhere in the world, and in the public domain, and comes up with certain pages – much like your search on Google, or Yahoo for a certain product – that contain information sought by the physician, or gives guidelines where the physician may get more relevant information.
You can thus see how quickly the physician today is able to come up with a diagnosis, and often times a prognosis (meaning possibility of recovery, management, etc. of the disease, drugs). Compared to earlier days when it took weeks (for the patient, even a day meant as much as a week because of the worry, tension, and often times, unbearable pain, and fear) to get to the root.