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What is the role of informaticists in educating, not only healthcare professionals, but the general public about technologies we use, like EHR, LIS, etc.? –Rebecca Fein 8/1/2014

Even though healthcare informaticists primarily work with fellow healthcare professionals, I believe that genuine opportunities arise to educate the general public, particularly when the mainstream media report inaccurately or with poor informational quality, about electronic health records and other healthcare IT.

A very good example of this happened just this month (July 2014), when the Boston Globe published a very problematic article about electronic health records. HCI Senior Editor Gabriel Perna wrote an excellent blog taking the Globe to task for its poor-quality reporting. He also referenced my own February 2013 blog commenting on the very unfortunate New York Times article about the HITECH Act and healthcare IT vendors. Situations like these are rife with opportunity for healthcare IT leaders to bring attention to the true value of not only EHRs, but also other clinical and non-clinical healthcare information systems that are improving patient safety, operational efficiency, clinician effectiveness, etc., in the healthcare system.

Healthcare IT leaders and other informaticists can write letters to the editor, call local broadcast media outlets, blog or otherwise comment in a variety of online media, and so on, in these and other situations. Healthcare informaticists are extremely well-versed in these issues, and can speak with authority on the issues involved. Yes, such activity goes beyond their strict professional duty, but it ultimately improves healthcare patient/consumer engagement and improves community understanding of healthcare IT.