Applications of information and communications technologies to public health: A scoping review using the MeSH term “public health informatics”
Objective: To examine public health informatics (PHI) articles that are tagged with MeSH term “public health informatics” and to review the use of this MeSH term in recognizing the current state of PHI.
Materials and Methods: MeSh term “public health informatics” was searched on MEDLINE-PubMed. The result of the search was screened in two steps. First, articles were included or excluded based on their titles and abstracts. Second, a full-text review was conducted to ensure the relevance of the included articles. All articles were charted based on public health focus, information technology, article type, and informatics concept.
Results: 515 articles met the inclusion criteria. The majority of the articles focused on communicable disease monitoring, public health policy and research, and public health awareness. Syndromic surveillance and communication between clinical and public health units were dominant themes, while electronic registries and websites were the most popular information technologies applied in this field. Data collection, retrieval, and management were the most prevalent informatics concepts, and data security was the least researched concept.
Discussion: PHI is a multi-disciplinary field with a wide range of themes, such as disease and injury surveillance, environmental monitoring, and research/policy utilization. MeSh term-tagged articles emphasized the need for further research in interoperability, data quality, appropriate data sources, accessible health information, and communication.
Conclusion: Despite the rapid growth in PHI, improvements in interoperability, data quality, appropriate data sources, accessible health information and communication between stakeholders is needed to facilitate adequate implementation of PHI into the healthcare system.