Modern health treatment relies on the timely and accurate exchange of information. At the Health Informatics and Statistics Research Group we investigate how information is communicated and used in the health system.
We aim to achieve better health care delivery and patient outcomes. This can mean reducing errors or developing better ways of doing things.
In essence, we look at what works, what doesn't and why.
Since computers are the best way to manage large amounts of information, much of the Group's work looks at the use and impact of information and communication technology within various parts of the health system.
There is currently massive investment in health information IT systems worldwide. But if we are going to invest large sums we need to know that we are going to get the desired results. For instance, if we want to reduce errors we need good baseline information. And when we talk about benefits we need evidence to substantiate (or refute) claims.
Topical areas where technology underpins health information systems include telemedicine, electronic medication ordering systems and home monitoring systems.
We look at many things across our areas of research:
- What are the desired outcomes?
- How do we evaluate results?
- What decision support systems are required?
- How do we integrate new systems into everyday work practices?
- How is information gathered?
- How do people interact with each other?
Clearly, this involves a multidisciplinary approach. The Group draws on expertise from the health sciences, sociology, organisational behaviour, psychology, management, statistics, education and computer sciences.
There are three parts to the Group:
- The Health Informatics Research and Evaluation Unit: this is the largest health informatics evaluation research team in Australia. The unit's work is highly competitive with other international research teams in this area. The unit's research focuses on how information technologies can improve patient safety, care delivery and the work of health professionals.
- The Health and Functioning Statistics team: this team analyses very large data sets and is one of the two teams involved in the Australian National Centre for Classification in Health, a world leader in its field.
- Health Informatics, Computation and Innovation Lab: this team examines the intersection between health informatics, computational science and health innovation and its potential in terms of patient safety, healthy living, improvements to preventative care, early detection and health system wide efficiencies and improvements.
By building an evidence base around the transfer of information, we can influence policy decisions and improve the clinical delivery of services.