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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Anne M Bobb, BS Pharm(Northwestern Memorial Hospital)
Description: This book, part of the Health Informatics series, is the second edition of a book originally published in the mid to late 1990s that provides a thorough review of the theoretical and practical approaches to evaluation in biomedical informatics, both quantitative and qualitative, and includes examples and self-test exercises that aid the reader in concept understanding and practical application.
Purpose: It is designed to serve as a textbook for a graduate level course in informatics, as well as a general reference for those wishing to evaluate a particular aspect of the wide range of biomedical applications. In the rapidly evolving field of biomedical informatics, a thorough and practical evaluation of an application or system is of vital importance, both from the participant perspective and patient outcomes if studying a clinical intervention. The authors effectively explain the "whys" and the "how to" of evaluation.
Audience: This book was written for students training for careers in informatics who, as part of their curricula, must learn to perform evaluation studies as well as those responsible (both technical and clinical) for information systems in biomedical or health settings who wish to understand the system impact or how best to improve them. Both authors are unique in that they have an in-depth understanding of basic science of informatics as well as well as practical knowledge of the world of clinical medicine and the realities of system implementation.
Features: This book begins with the basics, by describing the need for evaluation in biomedical informatics and progresses to an in-depth review of both objectivist and subjectivist approaches to evaluation and concludes with results analysis and communication of these results. The most important aspect of the book is the authors' thoroughness in presenting the different approaches to evaluation, the reasons to use one method over another and the common pitfalls to avoid when performing an evaluation study. The use of contributors, clearly experts in their particular fields, to write certain chapters in this book further expands the information. This book is timely in that some of the biomedical evaluation studies that have been recently published in major medical journals have attracted national media attention but their methods and conclusions have been widely criticized by the informatics community. Certain chapters of this book should almost be required reading for those undertaking evaluation studies with the intent to publish, as these studies have been very effective in creating or swaying broad opinion.
Assessment: This book is a true addition to the field of biomedical informatics. In this rapidly evolving field, which typically involves interaction between computers and humans, it is easy to overestimate the positive impact of applications and systems. Thorough evaluation of these systems, studied in many different ways, is vital to the overall system's success. This book gives the reader the necessary tools to perform an appropriate evaluation of basic or applied systems with the potential to impact the entire biomedical informatics field.