Informatics and the Practice of Medicine

Last May, I gave a presentation on how physicians can make better use of smartphones at the annual convention of the Philippine College of Physicians. This was one of the introductory slides I used.  The points of the star enumerate the new competencies for health professionals as written in the Institute of Medicine document entitled “Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality (2003).” This document opines that to deliver ideal care in the 21st century,

“All health professionals should be educated to deliver patient-centered care as members of an interdisciplinary team, emphasizing evidence-based practice, quality improvement approaches, and informatics.”

What is informatics, in particular what is health informatics?

Health informatics is the study and application of methods to improve the management of patient data, medical knowledge, population data and other information relevant to patient care and community health.

Wyatt JC & Liu JLY. J Epidemiol Community Health 2002;56:808-12

I truly believe that informatics will be increasingly important in the practice of medicine. I’m trying to finish my thesis for an MS in Health Informatics: Design and Implementation of a Prototype Web-based Self-Instructional Module. If (!) and when I complete it :) I hope to make a small contribution to educating physicians of the future!


Carbon Footprint of ICT

Last September 21, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Richard E. Scott talk about his life’s work in Health Informatics over Skype at the National Telehealth Center. Dr. Scott is an Associate Professor in the global e-Health Research and Training Program of the Centre for Innovation in Health Technology, University of Calgary.  One of the things that struck me was when he started talking about environmental e-Health and the carbon footprint of ICT (Information and Communications Technology).  It got me wondering how much impact a gadget-enamored witch like me was having on the environment!

Dr. Scott said that a tweet emits about 0.02 g CO2 and 50 million tweets a day would be a ton of CO2! A Google search query is 0.2 g CO2 and each email is 0.25 g CO2.

I then googled (oops another 0.2 g CO2 right there!) what the carbon footprint of a cell phone was. Doctors like me really use their mobile phones a lot! The Guardian’s Green Living Blog has these statistics:

47 kg CO2: a year’s typical usage of just under 2 minutes/day

1250 kg CO2: a year’s usage at 1 hour/day

125 million tons CO2: global mobile usage per year

Texting will obviously have a smaller carbon footprint than a voice call, but just think about how many texts are sent daily in the Philippines! Mashable.com confirms that the Philippines is still the Texting Capital of the World with approximately 600 messages sent per month per mobile user.

I have a 2nd gen iPod touch and I still haven’t decided whether to get the latest iPod touch or the iPad. If you go to the Apple Store, you can reassure yourself that these devices use arsenic-free display glass, mercury-free LCD display, a recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure and are brominated flame retardant (BFR)- and PVC-free. In addition, the new iPod touch has smaller and more compact packaging. Hmm, let me think about it! :)