Biostatistics is the use of statistical methods to analyze biological systems. Data collection comes from experiments and models that trace patterns in medicine, pharmacy and ecological populations such as fisheries. The data is then summarized, interpreted and extrapolated to find underlying patterns. There are branches of biostatics that focus on specific topics, for example medical biostatics or even epidemiology studies medicine, health and disease.
Biostatistics is important because it gives observed biological systems quantitative data that can be stored, modeled, analyzed and interpreted. There are many types of statistical methods, such as inferential statistics that use models that draws conclusions on population data or descriptive statistics that summarizes data sets.
Biostatistics is used in analyzing populations, where data sets are quantified in terms of health indicators. A health indicator is a measureable trend that can be identified in data and used for evidence in supporting a hypothesis, and example is birth rate and death rate. Health indicators need to follow four main guidelines. Firstly, the ability to be measured uniformly internationally and the second is to have statistical validity. The third is to have data that can be feasibly collected, and the fourth is to produce results that can recommend people how to make changes to improve health.1
1. Larson, C. & Mercer A. (2004) Global health indicators: An overview. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 171 (10), 1199-1200.