Introduction to Health Informatics

George Mason Department of Health Administration & Policy


Course Description

An introduction to basic information management in health care service organizations. Provides an overview of health information systems for selected administrative functions and clinical care services, including electronic data interchange for billing and claims management, institutional approaches to ensuring data security and privacy, and information management and decision support for managers and clinicians.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of the course students will be able to:

  • Describe the evolution of information technology in healthcare
  • Describe the impact of components of electronic health records and financial information systems on quality of care
  • Assess information needs of an organization.
  • Plan process improvement through design of information technology
  • Assess business value of information technology
  • Conduct participatory vendor selection
  • Manage technology implementation projects
    1. Manage expectations during project initiation
    2. Plan project tasks
    3. Plan project schedule and budget
    4. Maintain budgetary control of projects
  • Understand use of social media in marketing and delivery of health services
  • Analyze risk of privacy and security violations in operating information systems
  • Evaluate impact of information technology on cost
  • Use information technology for performance measurement and monitoring
  • Evaluate impact of information technology on quality of services
  • Evaluate comparative effectiveness of services through use of data in electronic health records

Program Competencies Addressed

Following competencies are addressed in this course:

  • A3. Demonstrate the use of information systems and application software in heath services, e.g., electronic medical records, GIS, and use of software tools for management decision-making. 
  • A.2 Integrate operational planning and management tools for performance and quality improvement.  This topic is taught at the level of "Analysis." 
  • B.1. Shape operational and strategic plans and integrate with marketing initiatives.
  • B.5. Integrate and demonstrate effective written oral communication
  • C.2. Comprehend and explain the legal and regulatory environment for health services.
  • A.6. Manage and assess operational performance
  • A.4. Explain and demonstrate the application of quantitative analysis, e.g., descriptive and inferential statistics, regression, forecasting.
  • D.5. Execute financial mathematics, e.g., time value of money calculations, capital budgeting, return on investment, and project risk analyses.

For an overview of competencies needed for management of health information systems, see some of these resources:  Slides► You Tube► Read►

AUPHA HIMSS IT Competencies

Following competencies are addressed in this course:

  1. Data analysis and quantitative methods including, manipulation, understanding of, and ability to explain data. 
  2. Application of project management tools and techniques
  3. Outcomes assessment: return-on- investments, cost-benefits, cost-effectiveness, and benefits realization analyses 
  4. Essential concepts of systems theory and its application to information management
  5. Characteristics of clinical systems/programs (e.g., electronic medical records, medical decision support, diagnostic information systems)
  6. The clinical process and the information needs of physicians and other caregivers centered around patient safety.
  7. Characteristics of IT governance and administrative systems/programs e.g., financial, scheduling, supply-chain, productivity, human resources)
  8. Methods for planning, selecting, implementing, and evaluation health care information systems including RFI and RFP
  9. Aligning the information systems plans with the overall strategic plans of an organization to improve performance, i.e. balanced score card.
  10. Recommend policies and procedures for information systems management (e.g., data security; confidentiality, HIPAA, medical records, acquisition of software and hardware)
  11. Sources of health care financing and reimbursement and the impact on the investment in healthcare technology. 
  12. Capable of interacting and communicating with IT professionals as a member of a team.
  13. Measuring, demonstrating and valuing information technology for improving care for patients using evidence based management techniques.
  14. E-health technology and emerging national, regional and local policies regarding electronic medical records
  15. Research and evaluate emerging technologies and their applicability to solving healthcare problems.

Following AUPHA HIMSS IT competencies are not addressed in this course and are addressed in a separate courses:

  1. Decision modeling techniques for managerial problems in health care administration (e.g. decision analysis, decision trees, simulation, linear programming, process improvement).
  2. Health informatics (e.g., coding; communication standards; data standards)
  3. Principles of database and file management
  4. Characteristics of a sound information technology infrastructure includes system architecture; technology lifecycles)
  5. Components of information systems, including hardware, software and network components

Presentations about the Syllabus

Required Textbooks

  • No textbook is required.  Required reading is posted to the web.  Home

Recommended Textbook

  • Kropf R, Scalzi G.  Managing information technology work:  maximizing the benefits for health care organizations.  Health Forum, Chicago, 2007  Amazon►


Each class will consist of four parts:

  1. Learn one: online or in person brief interactive lecture
  2. Do one: Laboratory work.  Complete assignments during class time.
  3. Teach one:  Students teach the topic they have learned to one another
  4. Evaluation:  Students evaluate all lectures, not just at end of the course

Teach One Assignment

We rely on a method typically used in training of medical residents: "Learn one, do one, teach one."  Each student is expected to not only learn the concepts in the course, and do the assignments, but also teach a portion of the course. This active participation in teaching helps students learn the concepts in the course in more depth.  The best way to learn a topic is to teach it.  Students are expected to teach by preparing a brief video. Students select which topic they wish to teach.  They can teach about any aspect within the topic.  Typically students teach how to do the assignment in the week's topic. 

Video Preparation

In several assignments you are asked to prepare videos.  Following tools are needed for preparing an online project presentation:

  1. A microphone is necessary to narrate your slides.  Please do not rely on built in microphones for portable computers.
  2. You can capture screen shots and insert it into your slide presentation using Command and Print Screen keys.  MAC Users►
  3. Narrate your slides or use other video making software.  Narrate► Free Camstudio►   Camtasia►  SWF► IMovie►
  4. Convert the narrated slides to a video format that can be uploaded to the web.   
  5. Upload your narrated slides Author Stream► You-Tube►
    • Share your narrated slides publicly so all students in the class can view it. 
    • Put within the description the following statement:  "This presentation was prepared as part of the HAP 360 course on Information Systems in Health Care Management  taught by Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D. at George Mason University  Department of Health Administration and Policy."  Add a sentence about you to the description.  Keep in mind that the work you are uploading will remain on the web for years to come and will help shape your career.
    • If you wish to be exempted from sharing your work publicly, make a request to the instructor with your justification and alternative plans.
  6. Email your URL to the students in the course or post your URL in Blackboard discussion so others can find it. 

Effective Videos

Modern health systems administrators must present their ideas effectively.  Effective presentation includes:

  1. Use appropriate contentManagers are often called upon to give voice to customers concerns.  This is best done through use of multi-media. 
  2. Have a consistent style (the same font, capitalization policy, color, and size through out the video).
  3. Make one, and only one, point per slide. 
  4. Make sure all texts on slides are readable, even after compression to fit the video requirements.  A U-tube video reduces Power Point slides to 1/4 of their original size.  Phone views have additional reductions.
  5. Make sure the narration is clear and continuous.  Occasional hiccups are ok, keep them they add color.  Set compression levels high enough to be understood in a noisy room. 
  6. Be brief.  Do not exceed 10 minutes. If you need more time, make multiple videos. 


1.  Teach One (20%)

The Teach One assignment must be completed one week ahead of the related lecture.  Missing this deadline reduces the Teach One grade by 20%.  The URL for the Teach One assignment must be posted to Blackboard to receive a grade for it.  No Teach One assignment are accepted after the midterm or after final exams. 

2. Weekly Assignments (40%)

You are required to complete all assignments one week after lecture day; assignments for lectures over two weeks are due one day after 2nd week's lecture. 

3.  Exams (40%)

The exam covers the material in the course.  The questions asked are nearly the same as the weekly assignments and "What do you know?" section of the web pages.  You would need access to Excel and to Project Management software.  The exam is timed, open-book, with full access to Internet, Google, and to the course web page. Do not rely on the open-book access as time limitations typically prohibit learning the content during the exam time.


University grading policies are followed.

                                                A                             4.00                                        94-100%

                                                A-                            3.67                                        90-93%

                                                B +                          3.33                                        87-89%

                                                B                             3.00                                        83-86%

                                                B-                            2.67                                        80-82%

                                                C +                          2.33                                        77-79%

                                                C                             2.00                                        73-76%

                                                C -                           1.67                                        70-72%

                                                F                                                                              69% and below

Topical Outline

Please note that course syllabus may change at anytime prior to the date of the lecture.  Do not print ahead of schedule.  Check this page regularly for updates.  Assignments are due within 7 days of date of topic, unless otherwise noted. Late assignments are accepted prior to mid-term or final exams.  Late assignments will receive 20% less grade. 

Date:  Jan 27



Overview of the Course and Introduction to EHR  Lecture►


  • Discuss course requirements
  • Describe the evolution of information technology in healthcare
  • Describe the components of electronic health records

Assignments Due Feb 2

  • Select topics you will teach.  Post your selection on the discussion group in Blackboard.  Post your Linked In page.  Indicate contact information for your accademic advisor. Blackboard►
  • Use an electronic health record.  Take screen shots that you have completed the required assignments.  Insert the images into Power Point and send to the instructor through Blackboard More


Date:  Feb 3



Overview of the Course and Introduction to EHR  Lecture►


  • Discuss meaningful use of electronic health records
  • Assess patient safety using electronic health records


Due Feb 9

  •  Make sure you complete the introductory assignments, including Linked In page, selection of Teach One topic, and advisor's contact information. 


Date:  Feb 10



Plan IT:  Assess Business Value of Information Technology  Lecture►


  • Assess business value of information technology
  • List problems associated with selective listing of benefits and cost of information technology
  • Problems with listing cost of information technology
  • Causal interpretation of return on investment

Assignment Due Feb 16

  • Evaluate business value of IT.   Use Excel and Power Point to complete this assignment and to submit it via Blackboard  More►


Date:  Feb 17



Plan IT: Participatory Vendor Evaluations  Lecture►


  • Conduct participatory vendor selection
  • Conduct effective team meetings
  • Analyze preferences of a group of decision makers

Assignment Due Feb 23

  • Conduct participatory vendor selection   More►


Date:  Feb 24



Plan IT: Assess Information Needs  Lecture►


  • Assess information needs of an organization
  • Distinguish between wanted information and needed information
  • Plan for relevant information to be available on time
  • Examine role of information in future decisions

Assignment Due Mar 2

  • Assess information you need 6 months from now.   More►


Date:  Mar 3



Plan IT: Plan Process Improvement through Information Systems  Lecture►


  • Plan process improvement through design of information technology
  • Create use cases linked to quality improvement
  • Specify system requirements based on process changes

Assignment Mar 9

  • See Blackboard


Date:  Mar 10-12



Midterm Exam


  • 2-hour long exam.  Exam will be available from Friday noon to Sunday noon.  Must be returned 2 hour after start.  Open book, open Internet.  No group answers. 


Date:  Mar 31



Implement IT:  Project Planning  Lecture►


  • Manage information technology projects
  • Plan project schedule

Assignment Due Apr 6

  • Plan an EHR implementation project.    More►



Date:  Apr 7



Implement IT: Project Control   Lecture►


  • Manage information technology projects
  • Estimate project duration
  • Assess critical path

Assignment Apr 13

  • Control implementation of an EHR. More►



Date:   Apr 14



Use of IT:  Comparative effectiveness  Lecture►   


  • Examine quality of care through electronic health records

Assignment Apr 20

  • Complete a comparative effectiveness study  More

Date:   Apr 21



Use of IT:  Precision & Predictive Medicine  Lecture►   


  • Organize evaluations of electronic health records
  • Examine quality of care through electronic health records

Assignment Apr 27

  • Predict treatment outcomes More►

Date: May 5-7



Final Exam


  • 2-hour long exam will be posted at  start of exam time.  Open book, open Internet.  No group answers.  Sample Exam►

Past or Current Speakers

  • Bruce Slater MD talks about electronic health records (online) Bio
  • Suniti Ponkshe, MS, author of Medical Informatics 20/20, talks about IBM's approach to EHR vendor evaluations  Bio
  • Ken Rubin from EDS talks about designing real world electronic health records  Bio►
  • Jim Oakes Planning for the Successful Deployment of an Electronic Medical Record Bio  
  • John K. Cuddeback, MD, PhD Chief Medical Informatics Officer Anceta talks on benefits of adoption of electronic health records  Bio
  • Julian Safran, MD a practicing physician who has implemented EHR in his office will discuss the cost and benefit of EHRs.
  • Mia Cambronero is an online community organizer.  Bio►
  • David Pattie, Ph.D. lecture on bio-surveillance  Contact►
  • Patrick Schmitt is a Campaign Director at Move  Bio►
  • Dean Browell, PhD is director of New Media at ND&P Inc. (Neathawk Dubuque & Packett Inc.) Contact►  Bio►
  • Laura Benson, MS, Manager, Quality Improvement Clinical Quality Improvement Health Net Federal Services  Bio►
  • John Bott works under contract with Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality  Bio►
  • Captain Andy Spencer from United States Navy  Bio►
  • Karla Loper RN speaks on value of quality indicators for Health Net Inc.  Bio►
  • Dr. Noele Nelson, Deputy Director of Operations and Research at ISIS  Bio►
  • Syed Tirmizi, MD, Medical Informatician at the Veterans Administration, will speak on impact of Clinical Decision Support Systems  Bio
  • Linda Randolph MD, MPH is President and CEO of Developing Families Clinic in District of Columbia  Bio►
  • Amy Filmore Nassar FNP, CDE is a faculty at Georgetown University  Bio►
  • Tim Thompson's lecture on participatory implementation of EHR Slides► Bio►
  • Coletta Dorado, CEO and Founder of Azzly Inc.  Bio► Slides►
  • Mark Hulse, RN, CIO of MOFFITT Bio► Slides►
  • Steve Short is Tampa General Hospital's Sr. Vice President & Chief Financial Officer Bio► Slides►

This page is part of the course on Information Systems.  For more information contact Farrokh Alemi, Ph.D.