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This is an archived syllabus from 2019-2020

COMP60542 Introduction to Health Informatics syllabus 2019-2020

COMP60542 Introduction to Health Informatics

Level 6
Credits: 15
Enrolled students: 70

Course leader: Andrew Brass

Additional staff: view all staff


  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP60532

Assessment methods

  • 100% Coursework
Sem 2 P4 Lecture G41 Thu 10:00 - 14:00 -
Sem 2 P4 Workshop Collab Thu 14:00 - 16:00 -
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Biohealth Informatics
  • Computer Science units for ACSwITM students (semester 2)


Central to any efforts to build an efficient health care system, or in supporting evidence-based medicine, is the need to capture information around patient diagnosis and medical treatment. At the core of this activity is the development of electronic patient records.

Good quality electronic patient records require us to have systematic and unambiguous tools for recording the health state of a patient, and the treatments they receive. This unit provides a basic introduction to the development and use of electronic patient records, their long history, and the challenges still to be overcome.

Patient data is captured in many parts of the health service, in GP surgeries, in hospital labs, by different clinical teams. All this data needs to be brought together and shared - whether that be to build a record for a single patient, or provide an overview of activity across a region. This requires that data can be shared and integrated. However, the challenges in developing such systems are not purely technical. Issues around organisational and human factors are at least as difficult to develop effective solutions as developing an appropriate IT infrastructure.

By the end of the module students should have an understanding of electronic patient records, why they are so important, and also just why it is so difficult to do well. They should also have some appreciation of the governance and data security problems surrounding the capture, use and sharing of such data.


Part 1: Coding

  • Introduce students to basic concepts in coding systems used in health care
  • Examine the history of coding schemes in medicine
  • Explore some of the current coding schemes in detail (Read codes) and discuss future developments (Snomed)
  • Examine some of the issues and problems around the use and maintenance of coding schemes
  • Discuss the development and deployment of electronic patient records (EPRs)
  • Explore issues of data governance and patient confidentiality around electronic patient records.

Part 2: Sharing

  • Introduce students to basic concepts in of interoperability in health care
  • Introduce basic messaging concepts, including an overview of HL7
  • Introduce issues and problems around data interoperabilty
  • Examine strategies for data integration

Part3: EPRs in practice

  • Introduce students to basic concepts in of organisational and human factors in e-health
  • Explore issues of EPRs in practice
  • Introduce basic concepts around qualitative research methodologies
  • Introduce basic concepts around useability in healthcare
  • Introduce concepts around organisational change in the health service

Feedback methods

Students work in groups exploring health informatics issues around a particular disease pathway. During each day of the course groups will report back on two occasions on the work they have done - and on which they will receive formative feedback from the course tutors. The main assessment is an individual report based on this work. Students will be given detailed feedback on a report plan before the final report is written.

Study hours

  • Lectures (10 hours)

Employability skills

  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Project management
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  • Basic understanding of electronic patient records. An understanding of the complexities and problems in capturing clinical data. An understanding of the ethical and privacy issues surrounding medical data governance.
  • An understanding of the theoretical underpinning of coding schemes and data sharing protocols. Critical evaluation of health care literature around EPRs
  • Basic familiarity with the process of medical coding. Ability to understand the processes involved in mapping between different coding schemes. Ability to understand the processes involved in medical data sharing. Ability to critically evaluate current literature on EPRs.
  • Interdisciplinary teamworking.  Self-directed learning. Reflection upon learning.

Reading list

No reading list found for COMP60542.

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.