Glossary of Acronyms and Terms Commonly Used in Informatics

Last updated: 04/17/2013

AHRQ: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality - A federal agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with a mission to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. Formerly known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, AHRQ supports research and technology assessment, including implementations of health information technology.

ARRA: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - In 2009, the Obama Administration signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) or Stimulus Package into law. It contains billions of dollars in funding for science, engineering research and infrastructure, as well as funding for education, social sciences and the arts. Its greatest relevance to informatics is its major investment in the implementation of electronic health records and support for comparative effectiveness research.

BEACON COMMUNITY PROGRAM - A federal grant program for communities to build and strengthen their health information technology (HIT) infrastructure and health information exchange (HIE) capabilities.

BIOINFORMATICS - The application of biomedical informatics methods and techniques to the study of how information is represented and transmitted in biological systems, with an emphasis on molecular biology, genomics, and proteomics.

BIOMEDICAL INFORMATICS - The science that develops methods, techniques, and theories regarding how to use data, information and knowledge to support and improve biomedical research, human health, and the delivery of healthcare services.

BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH - conducted to support the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of patients with health conditions.

Blue Button: the electronic application that allows veterans the capability to download their personal health information from their VA patient portal in a very simple text file or PDF. This capability also allows veterans to self enter personal health indicators, emergency contact information, test results, family health history, military health history, and other related health information (1).

CCHIT: Certification Commission for Health Information Technology - A voluntary, private sector organization launched in 2004 to certify health information technology products such as electronic health records and the networks over which they interoperate. CCHIT, the original certifying body, is now one of several organizations the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has authorized to certify electronic health record technology and selected as an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies (ATCBs).

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - A part of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with a mission is to collaborate in creating the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health.

CDSS: Clinical Decision-Support System - A computer-based system that assists a professional who must decide what actions to take in a given clinical setting, such as physicians or nurses making decisions about patient care.

CE: Covered Entity - Under HIPAA, a health plan, a health care clearinghouse, or a healthcare provider who transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a HIPAA-covered transaction.

CER: Comparative Effectiveness Research - Any research program intended to determine the relative efficacy of alternate approaches to patient evaluation or treatment, intended to develop evidence that supports one approach over another in a given patient or context.

CMIO: Chief Medical Information/Informatics Officer - In hospitals or health systems, a physician charged with helping to assure the success of clinical information systems, representing a clinician’s perspective, and participating in system selection, implementation, evaluation, and user training.

CMS: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - A federal agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that administers the Medicare program and works in partnership with state governments to administer Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and health insurance portability standards. Formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).

CNIO: Chief Nursing Information/Informatics Officer - In hospitals or health systems, a nurse charged with helping to assure the success of clinical information systems, representing a clinician’s perspective, and participating in system selection, implementation, evaluation, and user training.

CPOE: Computer-Based Physician Order Entry - A clinical information system that allows clinicians to record patient-specific orders (tests, treatments, management plans, and the like) for communication to other patient care team members and to other information systems. Sometimes called provider order entry or practitioner order entry.

CLINICAL INFORMATICS - The application of biomedical informatics methods and techniques, including information technology, to deliver healthcare services. AMIA considers all informatics when used for healthcare delivery to fall in this category, regardless of the health professional group involved (dentist, pharmacist, physician, nurse, or other health professional). Clinical informatics includes a wide range of topics ranging from clinical decision support to clinical documentation to provider order entry systems, and from system design to system implementation and adoption issues.

CLINICAL RESEARCH INFORMATICS (CRI) - Involves the application of biomedical informatics methods and techniques in the discovery and management of new knowledge relating to health and disease. It includes management of information related to clinical trials, community based research, and also involves informatics related to research use of clinical data. Clinical research informatics and translational bioinformatics are the primary domains related to informatics activities to support translational research, and thus clinical research informatics lies at the intersection between bioinformatics and clinical informatics.Last updated: 11/10/2010

CONSUMER HEALTH INFORMATICS - Is the field devoted to informatics from multiple consumer-patient views. These include patient focused informatics, health literacy and consumer education. The focus is on information structures and processes that empower consumers to manage their own health; for example health information literacy, consumer-friendly language, personal health records, and Internet-based strategies and resources. The shift in this view of informatics analyses consumers' needs for information; studies and implements methods of making information accessible to consumers; and models and integrates consumers' preferences into health information systems. Consumer informatics involves the intersection of clinical informatics and public health informatics, standing at a crossroads with other disciplines, such as nursing informatics, public health, health promotion, health education, library science, and communication science.

CTSA: CLINICAL TRANSLATIONAL SCIENCE AWARDS - An NIH grants program that promotes more rapid and effective translation of basic science discoveries into clinical settings, culminating in facilitated adoption in the community. These awards require a significant investment in biomedical informatics to support the translational science. They have accordingly been a boon to the development of translational bioinformatics and clinical research informatics.

DATA STEWARDSHIP - Data stewardship encompasses the responsibilities and accountabilities associated with managing, collecting, viewing, storing, sharing, disclosing, or otherwise making use of personal health information. Principles of data stewardship apply to all the personnel, systems and processes engaging in health information storage and exchange within and across organizations.

DENTAL INFORMATICS - The component of clinical informatics that deals with the roles and activities of individuals in the dental profession.

EHR: Electronic Health Record - A repository of electronically maintained information about an individual’s health status and health care, stored such that it can serve the multiple legitimate users of the record.

EMR: Electronic Medical Record (see EHR)

FDA: United States Food and Drug Administration - A federal agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation, and by regulating the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products.

FHA: Federal Health Architecture - A collaborative body composed of several federal departments and agencies that provide a framework for linking health business processes to technology solutions and standards and for demonstrating how these solutions improve health performance outcomes. Last updated: 11/10/2010

HEALTH INFORMATICS - The fields of clinical informatics and public health informatics, including both applied research and practice.

HHS: United States Department of Health and Human Services - HHS is the US government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services.

HIE: Health Information Exchange- the electronic movement of health related information among organizations according to national guidelines (2).

HIM: Health Information Management - The practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care.

HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [of 1996] - A government act to reduce fraud and abuse in health care.

HIT/Health IT: Health Information Technology

HITECH: Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act - A government act to enable coordination and alignment within and among states, establish connectivity to the public health community in case of emergencies, and assure the workforce is properly trained and equipped to be meaningful users of EHRs. HL7: Health Level 7 - An ad hoc standards group formed to develop standards for exchange of health care data between independent computer applications.

HRSA: Health Resources and Services Administration - A federal agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.

ICD-9-CM: Ninth International Classification of Diseases-Clinical Modification - A coding system for medical diagnoses, symptoms, and nonspecific complaints. It is frequently used on insurance claim forms to identify the reasons for providing medical services

ICD-10-CM: Tenth International Classification of Diseases-Clinical Modification - ICD-10 codes must be used on all HIPAA transactions, including outpatient claims with dates of service, and inpatient claims with dates of discharge on and after October 1, 2013.

IOM: Institute of Medicine - The health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

INFORMATICS - A general term used to refer to biomedical informatics and its many areas of application and practice (e.g., bioinformatics, clinical informatics, public health informatics)

INFORMATION SCIENCE - The field of study concerned with issues related to the management and retrieval of both paper-based and electronically stored informationLast updated: 11/10/2010

INTEROPERABILITY - The ability for systems to exchange data and operate in a coordinated, seamless manner.

ISO: International Standards Organization - Developer and publisher of International Standards that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors to enable a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society.

MU: Meaningful Use - A tiered set of objectives related to the ARRA Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. Meaningful Use criteria must be met by eligible professionals and hospitals if they are to collect financial rewards for the implementation of qualified, certified EHRs to achieve health and efficiency goals.

Mobile Medical Applications- health software programs that run on software programs that run on Smartphone and other mobile communication devices (3).

NCI: National Cancer Institute - An institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) responsible for cancer research and training.

NCHS: National Center for Health Statistics - A component of CDC, serving as the Nation's principal health statistics agency

NCVHS: National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics - An advisory body to HHS that deals with health data, statistics and national health information policy.

NHIN: National Health Information Network - A pilot program by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) established to provide a nationwide health information exchange (HIE) that uses a common standard.

NIH: National Institutes of Health - A part of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for conducting and supporting medical research.

NIST: National Institute for Standards and Technology - A non-regulatory federal agency within the US Department of Commerce to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness in the US by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life

NLM: National Library of Medicine - The world’s largest medical library. The Library collects materials and provides information and research services in all areas of biomedicine and health care. It is also an NIH institute and supports research and training in areas related to biomedical and health information management and information technology.

NCRR: National Center for Research Resources - A specialized center at NIH that supports research and development for multi-categorical research resources needed on an institutional, regional, national, or international basis for health-related research. This agency has organized and supported the CTSA program.

NURSING INFORMATICS - The component of clinical informatics that deals with the roles and activities of individuals in the nursing profession.Last updated: 11/10/2010

ONC: Office of the National Coordinator [also referred to as ONCHIT] - Part of HHS that oversees and encourages the development of a national, interoperable (compatible) health information technology system to improve the quality and efficiency of health care.

ONCHIT: Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology [see ONC]

Patient Portal- a secure online website that gives patients convenient 24 hour access to personal health information from anywhere within internet connection (4).

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act- in 2010 the Obama administration signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or “the Affordable Care Act” that includes provision such as the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, establishment of health insurance exchanges, and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage due to a pre-existing conditions (5).

PHI: Personal Health Information or Protected Health Information - Information about patients that is protected from inappropriate disclosure under the privacy and security mandates of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and subsequent related legislation.

PUBLIC HEALTH INFORMATICS - The application of biomedical informatics in areas of public health, including surveillance, reporting, and health promotion. Public health informatics, and its corollary, population informatics, are concerned with groups rather than individuals. Public health is extremely broad and might even reflect an interest in information technology with regard to ecology, architecture, climate, agriculture, and such. Generally, AMIA focuses on those aspects of public health that enable the development and use of interoperable information systems for public health functions such as biosurveillance, outbreak response, and electronic laboratory reporting.

PHR: Personal Health Record - An electronic health record that is maintained by the patient, typically combining information from a variety of encounters with multiple providers.

REC: [Health Information Technology] Regional Extension Center - An entity that serves a defined geographical area, offering technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate health care providers’ efforts to become meaningful users of EHRs and in time to enable nationwide health information exchange.

SECONDARY USE - A term generally used to refer to uses of clinical data for purposes other than direct patient care (e.g., for research purposes, for public health surveillance, for billing, for analysis in disease registries).

SHARP: Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects - An applied research grants program, funded by ONC, that supports research focused on achieving breakthrough advances to address well-documented problems that have impeded adoption of health IT and to accelerate progress towards achieving nationwide meaningful use of health IT in support of a high-performing, continuously-learning health care system.

Telehealth- the use of telecommunications and electronic information to support long-distance clinical healthcare (6).

TRANSLATIONAL BIOINFORMATICS - Research in bioinformatics that is motivated by human health and thereby emphases the relationship of the work to human disease in areas such as diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and management.