Informatics is the science concerned with gathering, manipulating, storing, retrieving, and classifying recorded information. Informatics develops new uses for information technology to solve specific problems in areas as diverse as biology, fine arts, and economics. Informatics is also interested in how people transform technology, and how technology transforms us.

Informatics incorporates at least three domains—

  1. Technology and its application.
  2. Information organization and structure.
  3. Human behavior and communication related to the other two domains.

While informatics can play a critical role in many areas in the use of information, two focus areas are applicable specifically to the NPCR: public health informatics and cancer surveillance informatics.

Public health informatics is “…the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practices, research and learning.” It is the efficient and effective organization and management of data, information, and knowledge generated and used by public health professionals to fulfill the core functions of public health—assessment, policy, and assurance.


Cancer surveillance informatics is the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to cancer surveillance practices, research, and learning. Cancer surveillance informatics projects will evaluate aspects of the cancer business to identify better ways to use emerging technology to incorporate automated processes and electronic data exchange. The concept of capturing data once and using it to meet multiple needs will become more critical as the need for information increases across the health care community. Cancer surveillance informatics projects will evaluate existing data streams such as insurance claims data that may meet data requirements for cancer registries, alleviating the need to create special data streams for cancer registries.

NPCR-AERRO is a collaborative effort to advance automation of cancer registration by developing a set of cancer surveillance models, requirements, and products.
The unstructured narrative text in pathology, post-market, biomarker, and electronic health record reports contain data researchers need to study overall population health and quality of patient care. The use of natural language processing will increase the completeness, timeliness, and accuracy of data while reducing the level of human intervention needed to identify critical data in narrative text.
Page last reviewed: December 10, 2014