Biomedical informatics: Changing what physicians need to know and how they learn

William W. Stead, John R. Searle, Henry E. Fessler, Jack W. Smith, Edward H. Shortliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The explosive growth of biomedical complexity calls for a shift in the paradigm of medical decision making-from a focus on the power of an individual brain to the collective power of systems of brains. This shift alters professional roles and requires biomedical informatics and information technology (IT) infrastructure. The authors illustrate this future role of medical informatics with a vignette and summarize the evolving understanding of both beneficial and deleterious effects of informatics-rich environments on learning, clinical care, and research. The authors also provide a framework of core informatics competencies for health professionals of the future and conclude with broad steps for faculty development. They recommend that medical schools advance on four fronts to prepare their faculty to teach in a biomedical informatics-rich world: (1) create academic units in biomedical informatics; (2) adapt the IT infrastructure of academic health centers (AHCs) into testing laboratories; (3) introduce medical educators to biomedical informatics sufficiently for them to model its use; and (4) retrain AHC faculty to lead the transformation to health care based on a new systems approach enabled by biomedical informatics. The authors propose that embracing this collective and informatics-enhanced future of medicine will provide opportunities to advance education, patient care, and biomedical science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-434
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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