Informatics is the discipline of science which investigates the structure and properties (not specific content) of scientific information, as well as the regularities of scientific information activity, its theory, history, methodology and organization.
By extension, veterinary medical informatics endeavors to study the structure and properties of medical information and particularly, medical information about animals. To date, most attention has focused on practice management systems which feature appointment scheduling, admission records, pharmacy records, accounting functions, cost-analysis, and cost-control functions. Veterinary informatics experts are also developing programs in areas such as diagnostic decision assistance, expert consultant systems for diagnostic and management assistance, drug information systems, and interactive teaching tools.
Events of the recent past have highlighted another role for veterinary medical informatics, namely to facilitate integration of animal medical data into information systems dedicated to supporting Public Health and responding to threats of Bioterrorism and Agriterrorism. Finally, government agencies involved in veterinary medicine depend increasingly on sophisticated electronic documents to receive information from the industries they regulate and to communicate with their constituents and with the public.
Much of what can be accomplished in veterinary medical informatics depends on standard means of representing findings and diagnoses, laboratory tests, therapeutic interventions, etc. Unique to veterinary medical informatics is the need to standardize representations of animal anatomy, animal behaviors and the animals themselves (including the role animals may serve in production systems or as companions). To that end, the VMRCVM veterinary medical informatics program emphasizes the study of medical information standards (SNOMED CT, HL7 and LOINC*) and inclusion of veterinary medical content therein.