Institute for Health Informatics

Purpose of the Institute

The Institute for Health Informatics educates students and conducts research in the fields of biomedical and health informatics. In that work it focuses on the design, use, and evaluation of information systems that support and improve healthcare while protecting the safety and confidentiality of those who receive that care. It is an interdisciplinary endeavor that encompasses work in a variety of settings from tertiary care hospitals to specialty clinics, mental health facilities, community clinics, nursing homes, and home care agencies.

The Institute's scope of research ranges from methodologic development in natural language processing to design of standard terminologies and ontologies and includes testing and evaluation of electronic health record systems, design and testing of better ways of presenting information to improve decision making and designing and implementing information systems to support clinical research.

Below you will find tabs designed to provide answers to common questions about the IHI. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact us.

Vision and mission

The Vision of the Institute

The Institute for Health Informatics leads the interprofessional discovery, application, and teaching of health information sciences to improve the health of individuals and communities.

Our mission

The IHI builds and supports teams of biomedical and health informatics professionals with expertise in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, veterinary medicine, library science, computer science, and management sciences for the purpose of:

  • Developing strong interprofessional research teams that engage biomedical and health informatics for strengthening the future of health and health care,
  • Serving as the academic home for professional, graduate and post-graduate education in biomedical health informatics at the University of Minnesota, and
  • Fostering engagement with the community and international partners in applying biomedical health informatics to improve health and health care.

Institute FAQ

When was the IHI established and why?

The IHI was formed in 2005 to link the growing health informatics-related research, teaching, and outreach functions at the University of Minnesota, optimizing opportunities for coordination, synergy, and collaboration.

What is the IHI's relationship to the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center?

The IHI is an integral component of the Academic Health Center, reporting directly to the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs. It brings together the informatics research, education, and operational functions of the AHC's six schools and colleges into a single, multidisciplinary resource. Thus, the IHI is not limited to medical or clinical informatics, but includes informatics as it relates to the professions and practices of nursing, dentistry, public health, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and the Health Sciences Libraries as well.

How does the IHI fit into the larger mission of the University of Minnesota?

The University sees informatics as an important growth area as it strives to reach its goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world. IHI has the strong support of the senior vice president for health sciences, and the University's investment in health informatics is considered a critical building block for future success in clinical sciences, clinical research, and inter-professional education.

Does the IHI train students?

The IHI is home to the long running and distinguished Health Informatics graduate program that was established in 1984 and has graduated over 140 students in the field to date. The program offers a Masters of Health Informatics for practicing professionals and those who wish to gain the level of skills and knowledge to enter the field. It also offers a Master of Science and Doctoral (PhD) program for those desiring advanced training either for a higher level of qualification in the area of health information technology ore those interested in conducting research in the field.

What does the IHI do?

The IHI focuses on three areas:

      • Research: Our award-winning faculty lead research aimed at discovering new approaches to improving health through better use of information and information technologies.
      • Graduate Education: Courses of study lead to the MHI and PhD/MS degrees.
      • Community Engagement: We advise and collaborate with Minnesota-based, regional, and national health care providers and industry leaders as they apply information technology to developing and implementing new and better ways to generate, manage, access, understand, and use health-related information. 

Who is on the IHI faculty?

The IHI faculty comprises a diverse array of leaders from academia and the health care community. Together the faculty represent eight University of Minnesota schools, colleges, and institutes, as well as Health Sciences Libraries, University of St. Thomas, Mayo Clinic, Fairview Health Services, HealthPartners, and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Where is the IHI?

Since 2009, We have been physically located on the plaza level of Diehl Hall (3rd Floor) on the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. On a virtual and collaborative basis, we have a presence in health care organizations and agencies throughout Minnesota.

Research FAQ

Why is the IHI referred to as an interdisciplinary research institute?

The National Academies' Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research defines interdisciplinary research as a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or field of practice (National Academies, Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy). The IHI aspires to actualize this definition in its research activities.

Who is involved in IHI research?

IHI research is led by world-class faculty with expertise across the spectrum of health informatics. IHI faculty and students collaborate with health care providers, biomedical and technology businesses, state agencies, and other community partners to carry out research that advances the science of health informatics and its applications to improving health and health care

What kinds of research are underway at the IHI?

Research spans the spectrum from basic to translational research. Moving along this spectrum, we encounter IHI researchers who are developing new algorithms to extract meaning from text in clinical records, those investigating the kinds of information required to improve decision making in the perioperative setting, researchers concentrating on knowledge and data representation, researchers pursing more translational research endeavors such as in-clinic needs analyses and addressing the challenges of implementing electronic health records and those who are examining the impact of HIT on patient outcomes and provider attitudes. Please see the IHI's research page for more information on specific studies that are currently underway.

Where is IHI research performed?

IHI research takes place not only on campus, but throughout Minnesota and beyond - wherever IHI faculty and the IHI practice community find common ground for fruitful inquiry.

Are students involved in research projects?

Students are welcomed and encouraged to participate in ongoing research and to undertake significant research projects during their academic careers.

We have a health information technology problem. Can the IHI help us?

Absolutely! Forging results-oriented research partnerships with the health care community is a vital component of our mission. Contact us at your convenience and we'll arrange a time to discuss your needs and how we can help to meet them.