Health Informatics Core

The Health Informatics Core is 1 of the 4 required core courses that build upon one another. This core comprises 2 courses: Principles and Practice of Digital Health Science; and Topics in Applied Health Informatics and HDS: Journal Club and Seminar Series.

Educational Objectives

  • Recognize the role of digital health and the quantified self-movement in driving healthcare delivery and value of care
  • Learn the principles of developing, validating and testing wearable biosensors
  • Recognize the pros and cons of different electronic health record (EHR) architectures, including cloud-based versus fixed EHRs
  • Understand basic principles of data transfer and security protocols for digital health data; study limits and opportunities of EHR interoperability
  • Evaluate the role of patient-provider portals for clinical and research applications
  • Understand the benefits and challenges of implementing OpenNotes in clinical practice
  • Review models for using telehealth to deliver remote care
  • Explore the role of social media for healthcare analytics
  • Study how text processing techniques can be used to gain insights from EHRs and other open-text formats
  • Evaluate the role for computerized clinical decision support (CDS) systems for improving healthcare delivery
Course Descriptions

Principles and Practice of Digital Health Science (HDS 201A)

Explore how digital interventions are being employed to drive clinical decisions and offer value to healthcare organizations, their patients and their staffs. Digital health is a broad term that encompasses use of digital devices and platforms, including electronic health records (EHRs), patient-provider portals, mobile health (mHealth) applications and wearable biosensors to improve process and outcomes.

The course begins by focusing on the revolution in remote patient monitoring made possible by ubiquitous broadband networks and wide penetration of smartphones. (Over 80% of the U.S. population now owns a smartphone.)

In addition, it is now possible to supplement patient reported outcomes (PROs) with additional data from remote monitoring, such as from wearable biosensors. Specialized, medical-grade sensors are increasingly approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are useful to monitor physiologic data, from glucose levels to brain function to medication adherence.

There are relatively limited data about the predictive ability of remote monitoring data in everyday clinical practice. It remains unclear if data from wearable biosensors meaningfully correlate with clinical outcomes, how they should be collected at scale for population health management, and how to interpret the results in the context of other outcome measures like PROs or laboratory markers. We will explore all these issues throughout the class.

The class will also cover the burgeoning ecosystem of mobile health apps, including patient-facing, provider-facing and patient-provider smartphone apps. We will review best practices for mHealth app development and review example of apps that worked—and didn't.

Students will learn how to develop, test and scale apps for patients and providers. We will also review issues surround data security, data storage and data sharing using mHealth applications, and discuss their role within the domain of consumer health informatics.

The class will next explore electronic health records (EHRs), including patient-provider portals. The class will review the different EHR architectures, benefits of cloud-based vs. fixed EHR systems, and ways to leverage the EHR to improve the value of care.

We will evaluate creative ways that EHRs can achieve meaningful outcomes for everyday clinical care. The class will feature an example of applying Choosing Wisely guidelines via EHR at Cedars-Sinai—a program that can improve outcomes and reduce cost, thus driving value.

We will then examine technologies gaining traction in digital health, including telemedicine, virtual-reality interventions, and social media, among others. We consider these examples within a framework for making smarter decisions in the age of digital health—a model that brings together what the clinician knows, what the patient wants and what the technologies predict.

In all cases we will explore real-life case studies at Cedars-Sinai and beyond, learning from practitioners in the field using digital health in the clinical trenches.


Topics in Applied Health Informatics and HDS: Journal Club and Seminar Series (HDS 201B)

Complements HDS 201A. Students meet every other week for interactive sessions to discuss topics in health informatics and health-delivery science, typically by reviewing new literature using a journal club format.

Students discuss a broad range of health informatics and health-delivery science topics, including:

  • Data-to-knowledge transfer
  • EHRs
  • CDS
  • Medical errors and patient safety
  • Health information exchanges
  • Data standards
  • Health information security
  • Health informatics ethics
  • Consumer health informatics
  • Application of evidence-based medicine
  • Public health informatics
  • Patient portals and patient-generated data
  • E-research principles
Have Questions or Need Help?

If you have questions or wish to learn more about the MHDS program, please contact:

Graduate School in Biomedical Sciences
Atrium Building
8700 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048