HI 6305 Social Dynamics and Health Information

Course Type: Advanced
Credit Hours: 3

This course assists the student in the area of technical writing, the development of 
scholarly and academic writing abilities. Each student will complete the process of 
generating a written document from topic selection through outlining, drafting, and 
revising. Writing in the field of Biomedical Informatics will be addressed and the genre 
of written discourse in informatics will be explored by the student. The elements of the 
recursive writing process and a review of the technical aspects of writing will also be 
considered. Critical reading, thinking and writing will be emphasized in the course. 
Weekly assignments require writing throughout the course.  A course writing project is 
required such as developing a manuscript for review, submission and possible 

The implementation of information systems will not only greatly enhance the quality of healthcare but also radically change the nature of healthcare. This course will look at healthcare as a distributed system composed of groups of people interacting with each other and with information technology. The following topics will be covered.

(1). Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). CSCW is the fastest growing sub-field of human-computer interaction and interface design. It is defined as computer-assisted coordinated activity such as reasoning, problem solving, decision making, routine tasks, and communication carried out by a group of collaborating individuals who interact with complex information technology. The multi-user software supporting CSCW is known as groupware. Most health information systems (such as EMR) are large groupwares that support large numbers of synchronous and asynchronous users with diverse background in the executions of many different types of tasks. A large number of daily activities in hospitals and clinics are CSCW tasks.

(2) Distributed systems. In a broader context, CSCW can be considered as a special case of distributed systems. A distributed system is composed of groups of people interacting with each other and with information technology. Distributed systems have emergent properties that cannot be deducted from the properties of components. This topic will focus on a specific theory called distributed cognition. It is concerned with workflow and cognitive information flow in distributed systems.

(3) Social impact of information technology. This topic will focus on the impact of internet on healthcare. What are the functions of virtual communities? How can online healthcare groups and communities help people to deal with health problems? How is internet transforming healthcare? We will do a few case studies such as drkoop.com, Healtheon, CareInSite, Yahoo Health, etc.


This course requires consent of the instructor. You need to secure that consent before you can register for this course. Contact your instructor for approval or any questions you have.

Additional Information

Course Goals

By the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the dynamics of the complex interactions between people and information systems and among groups of people.
  • Learn the theory and principles of socially distributed systems that are composed of information systems and groups of people.
  • Learn the methodology of analyzing socially distributed systems.
  • Learn to design distributed systems that help people work together more effectively.
  • Learn to design user interfaces for distributed systems.
  • Learn the social impact of information technology on healthcare.
  • Gain application experience through a term project.
  • Prepare a poster presentation and a web-ready final report for the term project.