Health Informatics

Location & Time

Spring 2017
Mondays 3:00pm-5:30pm

From medical centers and individual physicians adopting electronic medical records, to patients keeping track of chronic diseases through websites and apps, we live in an era of unprecedented access to health data. These data enable inference of drug side effects, causes of disease, and new treatments, but the new terminologies, policies, and challenges in understanding the data itself can make it difficult for computational researchers to apply their techniques to this new area and for health professionals to begin using informatics to solve practical problems. This course will give both groups the foundation needed to propose, evaluate and develop projects such as secondary analysis of health data and will enable them to begin effective interdisciplinary collaborations.

Students will learn how health data is collected (in both hospital and non-hospital settings), how the structure of record systems impacts the research process and interpretation of results, and how to design and evaluate studies involving secondary use of health data (while complying with HIPAA and IRB regulations) in order to gain new medical knowledge and improve healthcare delivery. We'll talk about both established work and emerging areas such as using wearable computing (e.g. Google glass) to collect and deliver health information.

Syllabus [pdf]


None. The course is intended for advanced undergraduate and graduate students from computer science and other disciplines.


Discussion of the readings is an important part of the course and will count towards the final grade. There will be a final project (and presentation), as well as one presentation for the journal club assignment and discussions of case studies.

Grades will be: 10% homework, 15% participation, 25% midterm exam, 50% final project.

Schedule and Lecture notes

See the syllabus for detailed list of readings for each week and due dates

Week 1: Introduction to Health Informatics [slides]
Week 2: Process of collecting health data [slides]
Week 3: EHRs, PHRs, data standards [slides]
Week 4: Cancelled
Week 5: Ethics in biomedical research
Week 6: Data reuse and evaluation challenges
Week 7: Midterm exam
Week 8: Research with EMR data, MIMIC intro
Week 9: System evaluation
Week 10: Pharmacovigilance and drug discovery
Week 11: Journal club
Week 12: Decision support
Week 13: Public health, epidemiology, and mobile health
Week 14: Final project presentations

Note: If you'd like the original powerpoint files to use these slides in your (academic, noncommercial) presentations or teaching, email me at and I'd be happy to send them to you.