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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2009 Mar-Apr;16(2):169-70. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M3092. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

A "fundamental theorem" of biomedical informatics.

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Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Ave SW, Suite 729-D, Washington, DC 20201, USA.


This paper proposes, in words and pictures, a "fundamental theorem" to help clarify what informatics is and what it is not. In words, the theorem stipulates that a person working in partnership with an information resource is "better" than that same person unassisted. The theorem is applicable to health care, research, education, and administrative activities. Three corollaries to the theorem illustrate that informatics is more about people than technology; that in order for the theorem to hold, resources must be informative in addition to being correct; and that the theorem can fail to hold for reasons explained by understanding the interaction between the person and the resource.

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