What is a Building Informaticist?

Throughout this website, the topics of Architectural Medicine and the Architectural Doctor focus on health and wellness in the built environment. And one of the topics included in these discussions is the importance of gathering data and evaluating buildings for health related purposes. However, as I’ve also mentioned in other articles such as here, the typical building inspector is often focused on the structural integrity of the building, and not on potential health issues of the occupants. While there are occupational health professionals, such as an occupational hygienist, their focus is often on industrial buildings related to safety and health aspects in the workplace.

Yet if the data on buildings related to health are to be included in the doctor and health professional’s evaluations, where will this building data come from? Who will be gathering this information as informatics?

This is the purpose of the Building Informaticist — to gather information about buildings related to human health.

The Building Informaticist as Inspector for Health Related Issues in the Built Environment

Architectural_Medicine-The_Building_Informaticist-2022The term informaticist is referring to the term informatics, which is often related to health professions and professionals. This includes Clinical Informaticists, Public Health Informatics, Translational Bioinformatics, and Biomedical informatics (BMI). As defined by the AMIA (the American Medical Informatics Association ®), Informatics is the “science of how to use data, information and knowledge to improve human health and the delivery of health care services.” [1]

These professions are inclusive to a multi-disciplinary approach to health and medical data analysis. An example of this is Biomedical Informatics (BMI), defined as the “interdisciplinary, scientific field that studies and pursues the effective uses of biomedical data, information, and knowledge for scientific inquiry, problem-solving and decision making, motivated by efforts to improve human health.” [2]

A key facet of each of these professionals is the utilization of data as informatics to provide health insights for the medical communities. As such, the Building Informaticist can be added to these definitions by including the built environment in this collection of health data utilizing data science and analysis as informatics for all health related professions.

As the current informaticist professionals are listed in the health professions, there is a tremendous opportunity to overlap with the architecture and building professionals to gather data to support optimal human health, well-being, and thriving.

Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) and Building-Occupant Health

As Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) has continued to increase in popularity, groups such as the Gravity Project strive to include these topics in the health care processes. Originating in 2017 following a “multi-stakeholder meeting convened by the Social Interventions Research & Evaluation Network (SIREN),” the Gravity Project “championed a grassroots approach for creating a collaborative that could build social needs data for integration in clinical care.” [3]

By codifying many of these determinants of health, it can provide an exchange of data with new interoperability standards such as the HL7 FHIR SDoH Implementation Guide. This can help to ensure that data gathered by social workers and other health professionals can be easily exchanged and understood by the clinical physician.

With SDoH topics that include the environment and built environment in patient evaluations, eventually, there is going to be a need to have building professionals, such as the Architectural Doctor and this Building Informaticist to provide building data to help create a clear picture for health professionals to utilize in their diagnosis and evaluation processes.

The Architectural Medicine System and the Building Informaticist

In the upcoming book “The Architectural Doctor,” the topics of SMART buildings and the use of sensors and resulting big data sets can be utilized to provide insights to support better health and wellness in both the built environment and in public health in general.

An increase in multi-disciplinary professionals in both the health and building fields can provide an overlap between these topics to provide a bridge to a gap that many have not even noticed exists. As the pandemic highlighted the importance of building health, the main question that many may have on their minds is “what can we do about it?”

Building Informaticist – Conclusion

The seeking for solutions to achieve better built environment health is expanding year after year, yet without the proper gathering of data, the systems to provide such procedures, and evaluations of these data sets, there will continue to be gaps of knowledge that are missing from the health professional’s book of knowledge.

While the increase in SMART buildings and building sensors has expanded to a larger Internet of Things IoT fabric, there is still a tremendous amount of data that is ignored or underutilized. And as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) becomes more common, the geolocation of sensors can overlap with these building sensors to provide a plethora of big data for further evaluations.

Add this to Digitial Twins (DT) in both the building DT and medical DT developments, and now you have an overlap for insights into health that have never before existed.

The Building Informaticist can support this gathering of data to provide larger data sets for both evaluations and to prepare for data scientists in providing deeper insights into health issues.


Stay tuned for information on the Building Informaticist in “The Architectural Doctor” book, which will be published in November of 2022.