Research strategies for biomedical and health informatics: Some thought-provoking and critical proposals to encourage scientific debate on the nature of good research in medical informatics
Haux R., Kulikowski CA., Bakken S., de Lusignan S., Kimura M., Koch S., Mantas J., Maojo V., Marschollek M., Martin-Sanchez F., Moen A., Park HA., Sarkar IN., Leong TY., McCray AT.
© Schattauer 2017. Background: Medical informatics, or biomedical and health informatics (BMHI), has become an established scientific discipline. In all such disciplines there is a certain inertia to persist in focusing on well-established research areas and to hold on to well-known research methodologies rather than adopting new ones, which may be more appropriate. Objectives: To search for answers to the following questions: What are research fields in informatics, which are not being currently adequately addressed, and which methodological approaches might be insufficiently used? Do we know about reasons? What could be consequences of change for research and for education? Methods: Outstanding informatics scientists were invited to three panel sessions on this topic in leading international conferences (MIE 2015, Medinfo 2015, HEC 2016) in order to get their answers to these questions. Results: A variety of themes emerged in the set of answers provided by the panellists. Some panellists took the theoretical foundations of the field for granted, while several questioned whether the field was actually grounded in a strong theoretical foundation. Panellists proposed a range of suggestions for new or improved approaches, methodologies, and techniques to enhance the BMHI research agenda. Conclusions: The field of BMHI is on the one hand maturing as an academic community and intellectual endeavour. On the other hand vendor-supplied solutions may be too readily and uncritically accepted in health care practice. There is a high chance that BMHI will continue to flourish as an important discipline; its innovative interventions might then reach the original objectives of advancing science and improving health care outcomes.