Yearb Med Inform 2015; 24(01): 199-206
DOI: 10.15265/IY-2015-012
Original Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

Public Health and Epidemiology Informatics: Recent Research and Trends in the United States

B. E. Dixon
1  Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA
2  Center for Biomedical Informatics, Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, IN, USA
3  Center for Health Information and Communication, Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development Service CIN 13-416, Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA
H. Kharrazi
4  Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD
5  Center for Population Health IT, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore MD
H. P. Lehmann
4  Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

13 August 2015

Publication Date:
10 March 2018 (online)


Objectives: To survey advances in public health and epidemiology informatics over the past three years.

Methods: We conducted a review of English-language research works conducted in the domain of public health informatics (PHI), and published in MEDLINE between January 2012 and December 2014, where information and communication technology (ICT) was a primary subject, or a main component of the study methodology. Selected articles were synthesized using a thematic analysis using the Essential Services of Public Health as a typology.

Results: Based on themes that emerged, we organized the advances into a model where applications that support the Essential Services are, in turn, supported by a socio-technical infrastructure that relies on government policies and ethical principles. That infrastructure, in turn, depends upon education and training of the public health workforce, development that creates novel or adapts existing infrastructure, and research that evaluates the success of the infrastructure. Finally, the persistence and growth of infrastructure depends on financial sustainability.

Conclusions: Public health informatics is a field that is growing in breadth, depth, and complexity. Several Essential Services have benefited from informatics, notably, “Monitor Health,” “Diagnose & Investigate,” and “Evaluate.” Yet many Essential Services still have not yet benefited from advances such as maturing electronic health record systems, interoperability amongst health information systems, analytics for population health management, use of social media among consumers, and educational certification in clinical informatics. There is much work to be done to further advance the science of PHI as well as its impact on public health practice.