Public and Population Health Informatics: The Bridging of Big Data to Benefit Communities

Yearb Med Inform. 2018 Aug;27(1):199-206. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1667081. Epub 2018 Aug 29.


Objective: To summarize the recent public and population health informatics literature with a focus on the synergistic "bridging" of electronic data to benefit communities and other populations.

Methods: The review was primarily driven by a search of the literature from July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. The search included articles indexed in PubMed using subject headings with (MeSH) keywords "public health informatics" and "social determinants of health". The "social determinants of health" search was refined to include articles that contained the keywords "public health", "population health" or "surveillance".

Results: Several categories were observed in the review focusing on public health's socio-technical infrastructure: evaluation of surveillance practices, surveillance methods, interoperable health information infrastructure, mobile health, social media, and population health. Common trends discussing socio-technical infrastructure included big data platforms, social determinants of health, geographical information systems, novel data sources, and new visualization techniques. A common thread connected these categories of workforce, governance, and sustainability: using clinical resources and data to bridge public and population health.

Conclusions: Both medical care providers and public health agencies are increasingly using informatics and big data tools to create and share digital information. The intent of this "bridging" is to proactively identify, monitor, and improve a range of medical, environmental, and social factors relevant to the health of communities. These efforts show a significant growth in a range of population health-centric information exchange and analytics activities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Datasets as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics
  • Population Health*
  • Public Health Informatics*
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Telemedicine
  • United States
  • Workforce