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An introduction to data and information in health and social care
An introduction to data and information in health and social care

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This course began by exploring some basic issues involving computers:

  • the nature of data and information
  • why human beings need (and want) computers
  • the prevalence of computers in modern life and their use in some instances for healthcare.

The course looked briefly at how a computer-based society affects the average person, who (whether they know it or not) has a persona that consists of data about them held by many diverse organisations.

Much of this course consisted of case studies illustrating the possibilities for computer use. They raised some of the issues posed by computing technologies, such as:

  • the distinction between data and information
  • what computers can do with data to produce information, and how this might be used to manage COVID-19 as an example
  • how computers can be used to work with data and search for it, control machines, and support commercial operations, and how society has changed to incorporate this.

There were are a number of themes running through this course:

  • Data requires encoding.
  • In order to function, a computer requires data which may be stored in databases.
  • Data has to be transmitted from place to place.
  • At the heart of a computer system there are one or more programs.
  • Many current computer systems are distributed, in that they consist of a number of computers which cooperate and communicate with each other in order to function.
  • Information has to be fit for purpose.
  • Security and trustworthiness are major concerns with many systems.
  • Computer systems also have drawbacks and adverse effects. They also have social, political, legal and ethical implications.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 1 study in Computing & IT [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] and Health and Social Care.