Health Informatics: Digitization v. Digitalization

I agree with Michael’s review of Prause’s (2016) paper: in my opinion, this blog post helps to distinguish between digitization and digitalization and presents the information in a way that is easy to comprehend. It appears that the author intended to provide the simple definitions, and this assumption can be illustrated by the dialogue with the husband that was included in the article. The man expresses the distinction in very simple words: “If I scan a document, I digitize it. But I would digitalize a factory” (Prause, 2016, para. 21).

Naturally, there is much more to learn about the processes, but for the comprehension of the terms, this post appears to be most appropriate. The author also explains that the need for a clear definition of the distinction does exist: apparently, it is not uncommon to mix the two phenomena, especially in open sources (for example, Wikipedia). It can be concluded that Prause (2016) succeeds in providing an easy and memorable way to understand the difference between digitization and digitalization, which can then be easily expressed in words and applied in practice.

I appreciate Eric’s review of the positive and negative aspects of digitalization, and I would like to point out that since digitalization appears to be the inevitable future of healthcare, we need to be well-acquainted with its opportunities and drawbacks. Indeed, digitalization is extremely unlikely to be stopped in the foreseeable future because it is promoted by multiple factors. For example, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act can be regarded as a political stimulus for digitalization, and the potential increase in the cost-effectiveness of healthcare is apparently an economics-related driving force (Tresp et al., 2016).

Moreover, Tresp et al. (2016) highlight the fact that one of the directions of digitalization consists of increased patient autonomy, which is facilitated with the help of applications and devices. According to Tresp et al. (2016), this change is largely the result of the wish of patients (or their families) to control their health to a greater extent. Finally, the popularity of electronic devices must have similarly contributed to the digitalization of healthcare, which suggests that technological factors are of importance as well. As a result, paying attention to the opportunities and potential pitfalls of digitalization is necessary for the future of healthcare.

One of the most important points of Mary’s post is the emphasis on strategic security, which she (with the help of Rhodes-Ousley’s (2013) quote) also compares to philosophy. Mary explores the challenges of security strategy development and the need for customization, but I would like to point out another strategic element, which Rhodes-Ousley’s (2013) mentions, that is, the holistic and systemic nature of security. Information systems are complex; they include data in a variety of forms (the security of which can be termed as “information security”) but are not limited to it.

The media, including hardware and software, also require protecting, and their protection can be termed as network security. When the strategy for security maintenance is being considered, it is necessary to take into account the fact that branches and aspects of security are interrelated and interconnected.

Vincente dwells on a very important aspect of digitalization and the modern digitalized healthcare, and I would like to discuss it as well. In particular, I want to point out that security challenge is among the issues that have been affected by digitalization to a great extent because of the threats that exist for digitalized data. However, it is also peculiar that technology plays an ambiguous role with respect to security: it is capable of both causing the problem (endangering sensitive data) and resolving it (through the development and improvement of security practices that hinge on technology) (Abbas & Khan, 2014).

As a result, modern security challenge resembles an arms race: in response to the ongoing and ever-growing threat to the safety and security of the data, new techniques and methods are developed to ensure its protection.


Abbas, A. & Khan, S. (2014). A review on the state-of-the-art privacy-preserving approaches in the e-health clouds. IEEE Journal Of Biomedical And Health Informatics, 18(4), 1431-1441. Web.

Prause, J. (2016). Digitization vs. digitalization – Wordplay or world view? Web.

Rhodes-Ousley, M. (2013). Information security: The complete reference (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Tresp, V., Overhage, J., Bundschus, M., Rabizadeh, S., Fasching, P., & Yu, S. (2016). Going digital: A survey on digitalization and large-scale data analytics in healthcare. Proceedings of the IEEE, 104(11), 2180-2206. Web.