What is biomedical informatics? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Biomedical informatics lacks a clear and theoretically-grounded definition. Many proposed definitions focus on data, information, and knowledge, but do not provide an adequate definition of these terms. Leveraging insights from the philosophy of information, we define informatics as the science of information, where information is data plus meaning. Biomedical informatics is the science of information as applied to or studied in the context of biomedicine. Defining the object of study of informatics as data plus meaning clearly distinguishes the field from related fields, such as computer science, statistics and biomedicine, which have different objects of study. The emphasis on data plus meaning also suggests that biomedical informatics problems tend to be difficult when they deal with concepts that are hard to capture using formal, computational definitions. In other words, problems where meaning must be considered are more difficult than problems where manipulating data without regard for meaning is sufficient. Furthermore, the definition implies that informatics research, teaching, and service should focus on biomedical information as data plus meaning rather than only computer applications in biomedicine.

altmetric score

  • 30.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Bernstam, E. V., Smith, J. W., & Johnson, T. R.

citation count

  • 66

publication date

  • August 2009