Central problems in health care involve availability, access, quality, and cost. A major part of a health care strategy also involves disease prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles, which go well beyond the purview of the health care system itself. Implementing any strategy involves health policy, finance, and management expertise. What then is the role of informatics? We take the position here that informatics is a key enabler both for addressing availability, access, quality, and cost, and also for supporting the work of health policy, finance, and management experts. Informatics provides the necessary information technology (IT) infrastructure, standards, tools, and data to be able to address these key topics and for carrying out the work of the experts. In that sense, we regard informatics as a means for social engineering – the availability of these capabilities brings stakeholders to the table who might otherwise not have reason to or be able to work together.
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