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Informatics for Librarians: Peeling the Onion


Clinical informatics is often described as the “intersection of computer science, health sciences and information science.” The objective is twofold. First, it will broadly explore this busy, growing intersection from several vantage points.  And two, it will illustrate the “front-facing” skills that librarians, a.k.a information scientists, can bring to the field of clinical informatics and healthcare information technology.  The demand for informaticians is expected to outstrip supply by 2015 because of federal healthcare reform initiatives launched, starting in 2004.  As a result, workforce development programs are now in place to help mitigate this shortage with some programs of interest to librarians.


Because clinical informatics spans the complex gamut of the patient care delivery spectrum, the methodology will use a focused survey approach.   Care delivery involves countless organizations, information frameworks, information search/retrieval, the use and synthesis of information, information systems and their design, standards, end-user environments, programming models/concepts, all playing crucial roles in perfecting patient safety, quality and improved personal and public health outcomes. The approach will incorporate a mix of academic and hospital based experiences. Additionally, in preparing future informaticians, the survey will highlight the several workforce development programs in which librarians may be eligible.


  1. History and overview of clinical informatics
  2. Efficiencies - Federal healthcare reform's impact on the "state" of healthcare information technology (HIT).
    1. Quality objectives, reimbursement milestones and incentives – ambulatory and hospitals
    2. Patient care data - structured and unstructured
    3. Patient care systems – legacy, ancillary, interfaced, integrated and hybrid
  3. Informatics and care delivery
    1. Organizations
    2. Information - frameworks, search/retrieval, systems, design and the use and synthesis of information
    3. Standards (messaging, vocabularies, terminologies, data, etc.)
    4. End-user environments (workflows, human-computer interactions)
    5. New knowledge – advances in programming concepts
  4. Preparing future informaticians
    1. Identify key librarians skills that are useful to the field of clinical informatics
      1. Demonstrate how these skills can be put to use
    2. Educational requirements
      1. Workforce development programs in which librarians may be eligible

Course Materials


Additional Reading:

Liang LL. Editor. Connected for health: using electronic health records to transform care delivery. 2010. Jossy-Bass. San Francisco, CA.
Nance JJ. Why hospitals should fly : the ultimate flight plan to patient safety and quality care. 2008. Second River Healthcare Press. Bozeman, MT.
Gawande A. The Checklist Manifesto: how to get things right. 2010. Metropolitan Books. New York, NY.
Gawande A. Complications: a surgeon's notes on a imperfect science. 2002. Metropolitan Books. New York, NY.

Continuing Education

Upon successful completion of this class, each participant will receive 3 hours of continuing education credit awarded by the Medical Library Association (MLA). Certificates will be delivered electronically at a later date.


Greater Midwest Region

Jacqueline Leskovec, Outreach, Planning and Evaluation Coordinator, , ,


PJ Grier, Outreach and Access Coordinator, Southeastern Atlantic Region
Dean Karavite, Center for Biomedical Informatics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia