The International Medical Informatics Association is an independent organization established under Swiss law in 1989. The organization was established in 1967 as Technical Committee 4 of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP). In 1979, it evolved from a Special Interest Group of IFIP to its current status as a fully independent organization. IMIA continues to maintain its relationship with IFIP as an affiliate organization.
The organization also has close ties with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a NGO (Non Government Organization), and with the International Federation of Health Records Organizations (IFHRO).
The working language of IMIA is English.
Purpose, Goals, Objectives
IMIA plays a major global role in the application of information science and technology in the fields of healthcare and research in medical, health and bio-informatics. The basic goals and objectives of the association are to:
- promote informatics in health care and research in health, bio and medical informatics.
advance and nurture international cooperation.
- to stimulate research, development and routine application.
- move informatics from theory into practice in a full range of health delivery settings, from physician's office to acute and long term care.
- further the dissemination and exchange of knowledge, information and technology.
- promote education and responsible behaviour.
- represent the medical and health informatics field with the World Health Organization and other international professional and governmental organizations.
In its function as a bridge organization, IMIA's goals are:
- moving theory into practice by linking academic and research informaticians with care givers, consultants, vendors, and vendor-based researchers.
- leading the international medical and health informatics communities throughout the 21st century.
- promoting the cross-fertilization of health informatics information and knowledge across professional and geographical boundaries.
- serving as the catalyst for ubiquitous worldwide health information infrastructures for patient care and health research.
IMIA membership consists of National, Institutional and Affiliate Members and Honorary Fellows.
National Members represent individual countries. A member is a society, a group of societies, or an appropriate body, which is representative of the medical, and health informatics activities within that country. Where no representative societies exist, IMIA accommodates involvement through "Corresponding" members within developing countries.
National IMIA members may organize into regional groups. Currently, such regions exist for Latin America and the Caribbean (IMIA-LAC), Europe (EFMI), Asia/Pacific (APAMI), Africa (HELINA) and North America. Initiatives are under way towards the formation of a Middle East region.
Institutional Members consist of corporate and academic members. Corporate members include vendor, consulting, technology firms as well as national professional organizations. Academic members include universities, medical centres, research centres and like institutions.
Affiliate Members consist of international organizations that share an interest in the broad field of health and medical informatics.
Honorary Fellows are individuals who have earned exceptional merit in furthering the aims and interests of the IMIA; fellowship is conferred for life.
IMIA is governed by its General Assembly which consists of one representative from each IMIA member, Honorary Fellows, Chairs of IMIA’s Working Groups and a representative from IFIP, the World Health Organization, and each of IMIA's Regions. Only National Members have full voting rights. The General Assembly meets annually.
The Board of IMIA, elected by the General Assembly, conducts the association's affairs. The day-to-day operations are supported by the association's Executive Director who is also responsible for IMIA'S electronic services.
The officers of the Board and IMIA's vice presidents vigorously pursue IMIA's mission to:
- Monitor the range of special interest areas and focus support on new developments.
- Capitalize on the synergies and collective resources of IMIA's constituents.
- Minimize fragmentation between scientific and professional medical informaticians.
- Ensure successful adaptation to changes in the medical informatics marketplace and discipline.
- Raise the profile and awareness of IMIA within and outside of the IMIA organization.
- Encourage cooperation between the scientific and commercial health informatics communities.
- Equitably balance support to emerging and existing IMIA members.
- Establish and maintain cooperation and harmony with organizations that emerge to address medical informatics issues.
- Continue to position IMIA as the gatekeeper for medical informatics issues in the international community
IMIA organises the internationally acclaimed triennial “World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics” - commonly know as MedInfo. The event provides both a high quality scientific exchange of current research and thinking in health and biomedical informatics and an opportunity for formal meetings and informal networking of IMIA's members. The event is jointly hosted by IMIA and one of its National Member societies. The selection of the society is determined through a vote of the IMIA General Assembly.
The next MedInfo will be held in Cape Town, South Africa on 12-15 September, 2010, with the South African Health Informatics Association (SAHIA) providing the local organisation of the event and the MedInfo2010 Scientific Programme Committee being responsible for the scientific content.
This 13th World Congress on Medical Informatics will be the first African MedInfo. The theme is Partnerships for effective e-Health solutions, with a particular focus on how innovative collaborations can promote sustainable solutions to health challenges.
Working and Special Interest Groups
The IMIA family includes a growing number of Working and Special Interest Groups, which consist of individuals who share common interests in a particular focal field. The groups provide opportunities for collaboration among individuals who share common interests in a particular focal field. The Nursing Informatics Special Interest Group (IMIA-NI) hold a triennial congress (the next will be NI2012 in Montreal, Canada), and other groups hold working conferences on leading edge and timely health, medical and bio-medical informatics issues. Current and future activities of the Working and Special Interest Groups are posted on the IMIA website and a summary is included in the IMIA Yearbook.
Following almost five years of work by the Strategic Planning Taskforce, which represented national members, working groups, corporations, academic members and IMIA headquarters, and which was initiated and lead by Dr. Nancy Lorenzi, IMIA Past President, IMIA's Strategic Plan, 'Towards IMIA 2015', was unanimously approved by the IMIA General Assembly at its meeting at MedInfo2007 in Brisbane, Australia in August, 2007 (and in conjunction with IMIA's 40th birthday). The Strategic Plan, and its associated Transition Plan will provide roadmaps for IMIA's future development.
IMIA continues to develop its communication capabilities through its website, which is undergoing expansion and development, and contains profiles on its members, working groups and activities. IMIA is constantly striving to further the services it provides to its members and the informatics community in general by promoting free interaction among and between its member network and the bio-medical and health informatics community at large. Through input from the IMIA Web 2.0 Exploratory taskforce, further modes of interaction with and between IMIA members and the wider global health and biomedical informatics communities are being developed.
IMIA has been investing in the development of its Regions, notably HELINA (Africa) and IMIA-LAC (Latin America and Caribbean). In Africa, in collaboration with the WHO, IMIA assisted in the hosting of a major pan-African Conference (2007) in Mali, which was followed up by another stakeholder meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon in November, 2007, and a successful HELINA conference was held in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire in April 2009. SAHIA, in preparation for MedInfo 2010, has been expanding its conferences, in Durban in 2008 and Johannesburg in 2009.
To facilitate growth and progress in Latin America, IMIA supported representative participation at the very successful "InfoLAC 2008 - Advances in medical informatics and their impact on healthcare systems" congress, held in October, 2008, in conjunction with meetings of the IMIA Board and the Education in Health and Medical Informatics Working Group.
IMIA's Vice President Special affairs continues to liaise with Middle East countries in preparation for a future Middle East region.
Schattauer GmbH's Methods of Information in Medicine and Elsevier Science's International Journal of Medical Informatics have been accorded the status of "an Official Journal of the International Medical Informatics Association" since 2003. Methods of Information in Medicine publishes IMIA news and a calendar of events in each issue.
These initiatives are completely aligned with the Strategic Plan and the philosophical personal vision of IMIA's President, Prof. Dr. Reinhold Haux who has taken on the difficult task of overseeing the implementation and execution of the Plan and to foster his personal vision:
"That IMIA provides a model example for successful, tolerant and peaceful collaboration of individuals, beyond any nations and cultures, for the sake of health and quality of life of the people in our world".