Editor's Summary

This special section explores informatics in the health arena through a collection of illustrative examples. The evolution of controlled vocabularies customized for nursing is described, with appreciation of the importance of nurses' notes in patient records for later retrieval and analysis. The specialized field of public health informatics is presented, offering valuable perspectives and applications geared to serve entire populations rather than individual patients. DOME, an e-health project in Sweden, explores the effects of patients' access to their own medical records, looking at the pros, cons and implications of online availability of personal health data. Approaching pharmaceutical development as a big data challenge complemented by electronic visualization is shown to facilitate analysis of the complex interplay of numerous variables. Last, a demonstration of information technology applied to emergency healthcare simulation shows how a proposed new technology can be tried out without expensive and time-consuming prototypes.