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Get to know health informatics

Did you know that there’s a way for physicians and other health professionals to make better decisions for their patients using health data and information?

At the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Health Informatics (IHI), health informaticians collect, organize and analyze medical health data to create meaningful knowledge or information that can improve patient safety, minimize health care costs and enhance services.

Health Talk recently caught up with Saif Khairat, Ph.D., M.S., clinical assistant professor of Health Informatics, to learn more about the expanding field that you might not have heard about…but soon will.

Saif Khairat

Saif Khairat believes health informaticians will be in high demand in the coming years.

How did you get interested in health informatics?

I earned my masters degree in computer science but I didn’t want to be a programmer for the rest of my life. My parents are both doctors and after the passing of my grandfather, I became interested in finding a way to combine computers and health care. Health informatics was where I arrived.

And what do you do within the field of health informatics?

At the IHI, I teach various introductory and advanced courses discussing how different health care providers use informatics applications to improve health care outcomes by reducing errors, for instance. I also conduct research looking at the utilization of mobile health (mHealth) to improve self-management in diabetes care. I advise and mentor students working towards various informatics degrees.

How has the IHI at the U of M helped you in your career?

The IHI is an interdisciplinary institute so it includes scientists and researchers of the highest order from across the AHC and university. This has given me the chance to collaborate with and learn from well-established professionals. During my time at the IHI, I have been successful in publishing articles, submitting proposals to internal and external funding agencies, teaching a variety of courses, and advising students.

All of these opportunities come from the excellent leadership and vision present in IHI.

Why do you think health informatics is an exploding field? Why is it important?

Improving health care services and outcomes is the center of attention for many U.S. federal agencies and national organizations. Currently, the adoption of state-of-the-art technology is the way to enhance health care. Health informaticians play a significant role in implementing the correct technology that aims at capturing, organizing, and analyzing health care data, and they transform it into knowledge that can drive enhanced care outcomes.

There will continue to be a high demand for health informaticians in the coming years. The IHI at the U of M is leading the education and training efforts for the next group of great health informaticians.

To learn more about the IHI program, please visit

  1. December 20, 2012 9:27 am | Sara F Says:

    Very interesting field and for a great cause. All the best Dr.Saif!

  2. November 27, 2013 2:23 pm | Salma K Says:

    Great interview and sounds like a very interesting new field! All the best to Dr. Saif and the Health Informatics team!

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