Methods Inf Med 2015; 54(04): 298-307
DOI: 10.3414/ME14-01-0119
Original Articles
Schattauer GmbH

Evidence-based Health Informatics: How Do We Know What We Know?

E. Ammenwerth
1  Institute of Biomedical Informatics, UMIT – University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall in Tirol, Austria
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received: 13 November 2014

accepted: 04 March 2015

Publication Date:
22 January 2018 (online)


Background: Health IT is expected to have a positive impact on the quality and efficiency of health care. But reports on negative impact and patient harm continue to emerge. The obligation of health informatics is to make sure that health IT solutions provide as much benefit with as few negative side effects as possible. To achieve this, health informatics as a discipline must be able to learn, both from its successes as well as from its failures.

Objectives: To present motivation, vision, and history of evidence-based health informatics, and to discuss achievements, challenges, and needs for action.

Methods: Reflections on scientific literature and on own experiences.

Results: Eight challenges on the way towards evidence-based health informatics are identified and discussed: quality of studies; publication bias; reporting quality; availability of publications; systematic reviews and meta-analysis; training of health IT evaluation experts; translation of evidence into health practice; and post-market surveil-lance. Identified needs for action comprise: establish health IT study registers; increase the quality of publications; develop a taxonomy for health IT systems; improve indexing of published health IT evaluation papers; move from meta-analysis to meta-summaries; include health IT evaluation competencies in curricula; develop evidence-based implementation frameworks; and establish post-marketing surveillance for health IT.

Conclusions: There has been some progress, but evidence-based health informatics is still in its infancy. Building evidence in health informatics is our obligation if we consider medical informatics a scientific discipline.