History of Laboratory, Scientific and Healthcare Informatics

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Historical Perspective

Learning in History.jpg
"Informatics" being merely the science of information/data management, it can be argued that it has been around in this industry for as long as science, testing and/or healthcare have. And that must surely date to the earliest beginnings of man. "Og" perhaps tasted a leaf to see whether it was edible and nutritious, and he and his friends took note of the results and communicated that knowledge with each other. However, it tends to refer more commonly to data management that involves technology - specifically computers, databases and apps. The first professional informatics organization was started in 1949 — even before computers gained widespread acceptance (although computers did exist). Gustav Wagner founded a professional organization in Germany, the German Society for Medical Documentation, Computer Science and Statistics.[1]

The emergence of microchips, ever-increasing Read Only Memory (RAM) and other technological advances led to the digital revolution that now sees every aspect of both private and business life permeated with informatics, from smart phones to corporate ERP systems.[2]

For the science, health and laboratory industry, this has meant the ability to deal with much larger caches of data, both storage-wise and analytically, with much more accuracy (including elimination of transcription errors), and at a much faster rate than previously possible. It has also led to devices and instruments for diagnosis, research and analysis that were not possible before computing technology advances.[3][4]

In themselves, these innovations were game changers - some individually, but all cumulatively. The next major game changer, which actually developed concurrently with continual advancement in computing speed and power, was of course the introduction of LANs (Local Area Networks) and ultimately the Internet. Finally, individual computers could be linked - with each other and with other devices, databases and applications outside of themselves. Server-client models became the norm in many scientific, medical and business environments. Inevitably "Cloud Computing" evolved and the burden of processing was shared among any number of virtual servers, with load balancing, automatic backups, redundancy and multi-layer security providing seamless, highly reliable and secure "heavy lifting" processing for large numbers of users simultaneously. This in turn leads to one current Driving Force of Change in the laboratory, scientific and medical community, which is called variously "Networked Science", "Science as a Social Activity", or Open Science.[5][6]
  1. Fernando, A. (27 September, 2011). "The BIG Impact: How Cloud Computing is Changing the Face of Small Business". 15 Intriguing Facts About the History of Informatics. Master in Health Informatics.com. https://mastersinhealthinformatics.com/2011/15-intriguing-facts-about-the-history-of-informatics. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  2. Collen, M.F., MD (Mar/Apr, 1994). "The Origins of Informatics". The Practice of Informatics. Journal of the American Medical lnformatics Association Volume 1, Number 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC116189/pdf/0010091.pdf. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  3. Arrigan, D.W.M. (2016). "Electrochemical Strategies in Detection Science (pg 2)". Electrochemical Strategies in Detection Science. Royal Society of Chemistry. https://books.google.com/books?id=z0G5CgAAQBAJ&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=technology+that+made+analytical+instruments+possible&source=bl&ots=B1rMG2xCno&sig=uAEITHP8j98F6vgKn0X_exVrVyU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwid6LCC7-nPAhVGjz4KHU_KC8wQ6AEIRTAH#v=onepage&q=technology%20that%20made%20analytical%20instruments%20possible&f=false. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  4. Tom Gluodenis, Bruce Quimby, Fiona Couper, Jerry Zweigenbaum, Lawrence Neufeld, Lucas Zarwell, Mark Jensen, Matthew Klee (1 April, 2005). "Forensic Applications of New Analytical Technologies". Forensic Applications of New Analytical Technologies. Forensic Magazine. 
  5. Meadway, J. (2016). "How the internet has changed scientific interchanges". How the internet has changed scientific interchanges. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/bls/miscellaneous/How%20the%20internet%20has%20changed%20scientific%20interchanges%20web.pdf. Retrieved 20 October 2016. 
  6. Dumon, O. (5 March, 2013). "How the Internet Changed Science Research and Academic Publishing, Creating the New Research Economy". The Blog. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/olivier-dumon/how-the-internet-changed_b_2405006.html. Retrieved 20 October 2016.