Unravelling the tangled taxonomies of health informatics

David Barrett, Siaw-Teng Liaw, Simon de Lusignan


Even though informatics is a term used commonly in healthcare, it can be a confusing and disengaging one. Many definitions exist in the literature, and attempts have been made to develop a clear taxonomy. Despite this, informatics is still a term that lacks clarity in both its scope and the classification of sub-terms that it encompasses.

This paper reviews the importance of an agreed taxonomy and explores the challenges of establishing exactly what is meant by health informatics (HI). It reviews what a taxonomy should do, summarises previous attempts at categorising and organising HI and suggests the elements to consider when seeking to develop a system of classification.

The paper does not provide all the answers, but it does clarify the questions. By plotting a path towards a taxonomy of HI, it will be possible to enhance understanding and optimise the benefits of embracing technology in clinical practice.


clinical informatics; health informatics; taxonomy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v21i3.78


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