About Us - The History Behind Informatics Education
In the 2007 time frame, my wife (Ann Yoshihashi MD) and I started to investigate the feasibility of writing a new textbook in health informatics. Why? I was concerned that the leading textbook was outdated, too historical and not practical.
The normal path would have been to work through commercial publishers so that they would format and publish the textbook. My wife tackled this issue by examining all options, with a particular focus on self-publication. The reasons were simple and numerous. First, the authors and editors would maintain complete control over the look and feel of the book, they would decide how many formats are offered and the price. Importantly, we would also retain a majority of profit, the opposite experience compared to dealing with a commercial publisher. Also important to us was using a platform that would guarantee rapid printing. It is not unusual for it to take 1- 4 years for a textbook to actually be published, particularly if it has multiple chapters and authors. This is unacceptable in any fast-moving field. When we submit our textbooks to Lulu we have a print book in our hands in less than 10 days.
To make a long story short, we embarked on self-publication with our printer becoming Lulu.com and Informatics Education being listed as both the publisher and financial entity. Initially, there was a lot of upfront labor to aggregate and format the book using Microsoft Word. This would normally be done by the commercial publisher. For the last edition of Health Informatics: Practical Guide and our new Data Science book, we have used a textbook designer who takes the Word document, formats all text and designs the cover. This was one of the best decisions we ever made. It is important to point out that MS Word is a poor document management system for anything over 100 pages that have lots of figures and tables. You spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down and locking in images. This experience was significantly better with Google Docs which we used for our second textbook with significant improvement.
The plan for the eighth edition of our Health Informatics textbook is to have Dr. Hersh and OHSU take over the textbook in every sense of the word. At this point, we don't have a publication target time but suspect it will be mid-2021.
The Introduction to Biomedical Data Science textbook was a brainchild of mine that I conceived of several years ago. I was aware that the world (all industries) has become data-driven so everyone needed to up their data game. It will take many years before we have enough data scientists in healthcare and other fields. It was challenging to find the right types of chapter authors to cover topics starting with spreadsheets and ending with artificial intelligence. The end product was worth the hard work.
We are proud that the vast majority of textbook proceeds have gone to universities and organizations such as AMIA. In addition, we have released "micro-grants" totaling $141,000 over the past 5 years to support informatics research and education. It has been a very gratifying experience helping instructors and students. I have communicated with hundreds of instructors from the US and about 40 other countries.