Around the world the healthcare industry is embracing information technology (IT). Historically the use of IT was administrative, financial, or statistical. Now it is transforming the way healthcare does business from the bedside, into primary care and patient and carer information management. As a part of this exciting change the Health Informatics Society of Australia, with the active support and involvement of the Australasian College of Health Informatics, is excited and proud to be active contributors to extending knowledge and understanding of these changes and the opportunities associated with them. The Australian National Health Informatics Conference (HIC) series of meetings is the largest national event of this type in Australia, with a dedicated scientific stream on health informatics. HIC provides a valued platform for academic and research contributions and interchange as well as industry updates and innovations.
The HIC 2014 theme of ‘Investing in e-health: People, knowledge and technology for a healthy future’ emphasises the journey being made in healthcare. As healthcare organisations and government projects look to information technology to capitalise and enhance healthcare the need for investment is clear, but where to invest, how to define success and understand opportunities and risks in this time of change are key issues. These investments extend past the technology required to provide infrastructure for the future. Investment is also required to enable the building of people, skills, careers, and professions to support and develop this infrastructure in a cost effective and clinically safe manner and lead change management. This e-health enabled healthcare environment offers faster and more wide reaching knowledge acquisition and best practice improvement, as well as improved healthcare.
Decisions made about investment in e-health need to consider what the successful outcomes would look like, rather than just considering a single project in isolation. Success can be seen as delivering
1. future focused infrastructure, scalable and adaptable to changing needs
2. capacity and capability building amongst our healthcare workforce, to enable them to meet the challenges of this information centric world and certainly doing no harm (preferably making care, or the care system better). It is also vital that systems enable secondary use of clinical data for biomedical research, public health and health policy. This necessitates a more active role from individuals in maintaining their health, facilitated by innovative technologies.
Questions arise such as: What investments will give the best short and long term outcomes, what activities could be undertaken, what works and what does not are all considered by papers in this volume. Papers represent experiences in Australia and New Zealand and further afield. As always, it is the strength of HIC that a wide diversity of work is presented and that a set of papers has been collected here that ranges from deeply theoretical to intensely practical. The careful reader will be rewarded with exposure to much diversity, and many elements of contemporary health informatics research endeavours.
The double blind peer review process established for HIC 2011 in a previous volume has been continued and augmented. All papers were reviewed by 3 experts in the field of health informatics, selected as prominent academics and industry specialists. The assistance of the Australasian College of Health Informatics in supporting this process through the voluntary efforts of a number of their Fellows is gratefully acknowledged, as is the similar contribution made by many senior members of the Health Informatics Society of Australia. This phase of reviewing resulted in the provisional acceptance of 28 from a much expanded submission field of 42. The Scientific Program Committee then undertook a validation process for all such papers that were resubmitted in amended form, to ensure that reviewers' recommendations were appropriately addressed or rebutted.
Louise K. Schaper