CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Yearb Med Inform 2018; 27(01): 199-206
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1667081
Section 10: Public Health and Epidemiology Informatics
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart

Public and Population Health Informatics: The Bridging of Big Data to Benefit Communities

Roland Gamache
1   Center for Population Health Information Technology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA
2   Gamache Consulting, Bethesda, USA
Hadi Kharrazi
1   Center for Population Health Information Technology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA
3   Division of Health Sciences and Informatics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
Jonathan P. Weiner
1   Center for Population Health Information Technology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
29 August 2018 (online)


Objective: To summarize the recent public and population health informatics literature with a focus on the synergistic “bridging” of electronic data to benefit communities and other populations.

Methods: The review was primarily driven by a search of the literature from July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. The search included articles indexed in PubMed using subject headings with (MeSH) keywords “public health informatics” and “social determinants of health”. The “social determinants of health” search was refined to include articles that contained the keywords “public health”, “population health” or “surveillance”.

Results: Several categories were observed in the review focusing on public health's socio-technical infrastructure: evaluation of surveillance practices, surveillance methods, interoperable health information infrastructure, mobile health, social media, and population health. Common trends discussing socio-technical infrastructure included big data platforms, social determinants of health, geographical information systems, novel data sources, and new visualization techniques. A common thread connected these categories of workforce, governance, and sustainability: using clinical resources and data to bridge public and population health.

Conclusions: Both medical care providers and public health agencies are increasingly using informatics and big data tools to create and share digital information. The intent of this “bridging” is to proactively identify, monitor, and improve a range of medical, environmental, and social factors relevant to the health of communities. These efforts show a significant growth in a range of population health-centric information exchange and analytics activities.

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