MSc ACS: Digital Biology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Health Informatics

Course unit fact file
Unit code COMP60542
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Central to any efforts to build an efficient health care system, or in supporting evidence-based medicine, is the need to capture information around patient diagnosis and medical treatment. At the core of this activity is the development of electronic patient records.

Good quality electronic patient records require us to have systematic and unambiguous tools for recording the health state of a patient, and the treatments they receive. This unit provides a basic introduction to the development and use of electronic patient records, their long history, and the challenges still to be overcome.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Principles of Digital Biology COMP60532 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


Part 1: Coding

  • Introduce students to basic concepts in coding systems used in health care
  • Examine the history of coding schemes in medicine
  • Explore some of the current coding schemes in detail (Read codes) and discuss future developments (Snomed)
  • Examine some of the issues and problems around the use and maintenance of coding schemes
  • Discuss the development and deployment of electronic patient records (EPRs)
  • Explore issues of data governance and patient confidentiality around electronic patient records.

Part 2: Sharing

  • Introduce students to basic concepts in of interoperability in health care
  • Introduce basic messaging concepts, including an overview of HL7
  • Introduce issues and problems around data interoperabilty
  • Examine strategies for data integration

Part3: EPRs in practice

  • Introduce students to basic concepts in of organisational and human factors in e-health
  • Explore issues of EPRs in practice
  • Introduce basic concepts around qualitative research methodologies
  • Introduce basic concepts around useability in healthcare
  • Introduce concepts around organisational change in the health service

Learning outcomes

  • Basic understanding of electronic patient records. An understanding of the complexities and problems in capturing clinical data. An understanding of the ethical and privacy issues surrounding medical data governance.

  • An understanding of the theoretical underpinning of coding schemes and data sharing protocols. Critical evaluation of health care literature around EPRs

  • Basic familiarity with the process of medical coding. Ability to understand the processes involved in mapping between different coding schemes. Ability to understand the processes involved in medical data sharing. Ability to critically evaluate current literature on EPRs.

  • Interdisciplinary teamworking.  Self-directed learning. Reflection upon learning.

Employability skills

Group/team working
Project management
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Students work in groups exploring health informatics issues around a particular disease pathway. During each day of the course groups will report back on two occasions on the work they have done - and on which they will receive formative feedback from the course tutors. The main assessment is an individual report based on this work. Students will be given detailed feedback on a report plan before the final report is written.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Brass Unit coordinator

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