As technology continues to advance rapidly, healthcare is moving towards ‘high-tech’ with organizations and care providers now being able to collect and analyze data more effectively consequently improving care delivery and resource management. Specifically, nursing informatics is changing the face of care provision in healthcare facilities. Although the mission of nursing remains the same, the daily operations of professionals are being influenced significantly by informatics, with a particular focus on communication and accuracy of patient data as a way of improving the quality of care. This proposal highlights the role of nursing informatics in health care and how having such professionals could improve the overall quality of care in the hospital.
Meaning of Nursing Informatics and the Role of Nursing Informatics
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), nursing informatics is a field that integrates nursing, computer science, and information science to communicate and manage data, knowledge, and information in nursing practice. Nursing informatics can be looked at as a subset of informatics specific to the field of healthcare (Bresnick, 2015). Healthcare informatics integrates healthcare sciences, computer science, cognitive science, and information science to assist healthcare professionals in the management of information. Nursing informatics specialists have evolved into health technology innovators who manage medical economics, establish businesses, create technology, and cater to the needs of end-user clinicians.
The role of nursing informaticist (NI) revolves around patient care, often acting as the link between information technology (IT) staff and clinical nurses. NIs also undertakes quality-focused tasks such as quality controls, training of clinical staff, and systems development (Snyder et al., 2011). Other tasks undertaken by nursing informatics professionals include analyzing clinical statistical data, writing policies, optimizing system performance, project management, and tracking the progress of quality initiatives in hospitals.
Nursing Informaticists and Other Healthcare Organizations
Nursing Informaticists combine expertise in clinical care with knowledge in data analytics and information technology systems to provide patient-centered care. Organizations that have employed the services of NIs have experienced a positive impact on quality patient care (Bresnick, 2015). Additionally, nursing Informaticists have been praised for their ability to enhance user acceptance of health information technology systems and streamlining nursing workflows while at the same time ensuring patient safety. According to Bresnick (2015), 75% of nursing Informaticists have helped their organizations improve medical device integration programs, a crucial milestone in improving data integrity and enhancing patient safety. Similarly, organizations have considered nursing Informaticists as crucial professionals who have a positive impact on the design of clinical systems, implementation, and optimization. Nursing informatics interact with other nursing staff as well as the rest of the interdisciplinary team mainly by acting as the liaison between clinical staff and IT personnel. They also train clinical staff on new healthcare systems and provide the necessary support.
Impact of Full Nurse Engagement in Health Care Technology
Integrating healthcare system technologies in nursing processes has the potential of turning around services hence improving different quality control areas of care providers such as patient care delivery, protection of health information, workflow, and costs and return on improvement (ROI).
Patient Care. Patient-centered care is a critical aspect in the provision of high-quality care in healthcare facilities. According to Snyder et al. (2011), patient-centered care entails the provision of responsive and respectable healthcare that addresses patient needs, values, and preferences. Nursing informatics is an essential component in patient-centered care as it addresses how patient information is acquired, stored, and utilized with a particular focus on technology. Nursing informatics also makes patient participation possible. For instance, through the use of NIs, patients can electronically access their own health data, history, and recommendation. As a result, patients can take up their role in managing their health seriously. Patients with access to care portals can educate themselves on how to effectively keep track of their symptoms and medications. All these factors contribute towards improved patient care in healthcare facilities.
Protected health information. Documentation is an important aspect of the nursing profession. With modern nursing care is driven by individual patient history and health needs, collecting accurate information is vital. Nursing informatics ensures that data is collected, organized, analyzed, and disseminated electronically. At the same time, the data can be encrypted to ensure that privacy and confidentiality of information are maintained. With the rising concerns on data safety, NIs ensure that electronic data is secure.
Workflow. Provision of healthcare entails a sequence and interaction of both mental and physical tasks performed by different professionals within the facility. Coordinating the care of their patients is a critical responsibility of nurses. Proper coordination means relying on the information from therapists, pharmacy, billing, and physicians among other staff (Powell-Cope, Nelson, & Patterson, 2008). However, without the necessary information, patient care can be impaired. Nursing informatics improve workflow hence allowing nurses to provide their patients with all the needed information hence improving both the satisfaction and outcome of care.
Reduced Costs and Return on Investment (ROI). Medical errors are quite expensive, costing the healthcare sector nearly $40 billion annually. Most of these errors can be prevented if nursing informatics is utilized. Integrating IT in healthcare not only provides nurses with the much-needed alerts to avoid errors but also helps automate certain tasks hence improving productivity (Snyder et al., 2011). Proper coordination of nursing activities ensures that nurses and other key hospital staff are productive and prevent some of the costs associated with healthcare hence leading to higher returns on investment.
Opportunities and Challenges
The addition of a nurse informaticist role in a healthcare facility presents a lot of opportunities for nurses and the interdisciplinary teams. Better coordination ensures that nurses and staff are able to complete their tasks faster and more confidently. Additionally, the staff stands to benefit from the new competencies introduced by the nursing Informaticists such as computer skills, informatics knowledge, and IT skills (Powell-Cope et al., 2008). Improved confidence, productivity, and reduced medical errors can lead to opportunities such as promotions among the nursing staff.
While the role of Informaticists presents enormous opportunities and benefits to the staff, there are a few challenges that might be experienced. For instance, the nurse informaticist may face resistance from other nurses, especially during the initial stages. However, NIs can provide a link between clinical staff and IT hence streamlining processes that lead to better care coordination (Bresnick, 2015). When integrated properly in healthcare systems through the use of nursing Informaticists, IT can lead to a reduction in clinical errors.
Summary of Recommendations
Considering the many benefits that the nurse Informaticists stands to bring to the healthcare facility, the HR Manager and CNO should definitely introduce the new role. To make the processes seamless, the following recommendations need to be put into consideration; first, standardizing nursing language will help facilitate the acceptance of new methods of documenting information, data, and processes electronically. Secondly, it is critical to ensure that the facility adheres to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This will ensure that the security and privacy of confidential health information are guaranteed as provided by the Act. Thirdly, it is imperative that the clinical staff is adequately trained on electronic health information. Nursing Informaticists can help the facility develop highly targeted educational programs that address specific gaps between provider expectations and expertise.
Bresnick, J. (2015). Nurse Informaticists Have a “Direct Positive Impact” on Patient Care. Health IT Analytics. Retrieved 29 September 2020, from https://healthitanalytics.com/news/nurse-informaticists-have-direct-positive-impact-on-patient-care
Powell-Cope, G., Nelson, A. L., & Patterson, E. S. (2008). Patient care technology and safety. In-Patient safety and quality: An evidence-based handbook for nurses. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2686/
Snyder, C. F., Wu, A. W., Miller, R. S., Jensen, R. E., Bantug, E. T., & Wolff, A. C. (2011). The role of informatics in promoting patient-centered care. Cancer Journal (Sudbury, Mass.), 17(4), 211. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3146983/