Impact of Informatics on Health Care in the Nursing Profession
Despite its numerous advantages, the adoption of information technology has lagged behind in the health care sector. In this paper, the various ways via which informatics have or will transform the health care sector will be discussed. Informatics will improve the safety and efficiency of health care in the nursing profession by increasing the accessibility of vital patient information to all stakeholders, increasing the use of evidence-based information, reducing the time spent on documentation, and fostering easy monitoring and evaluation of clinical, fiscal, and financial outcomes.
Although numerous studies have documented that the use of evidence-based information improves patient outcomes, the implementation of evidence-based practices in clinical settings is below par. Lack of time to search for evidence-based guidelines and lack of knowledge on how to interpret and integrate the findings of empirical research into clinical practice are amongst factors that hinder the use and implementation of evidence-based practices. Health informatics tools such as personal digital assistants can be used to disseminate evidence-based information and clinical updates to nurses involved in direct patient care (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2010). Such information may be integrated into specially designed software that support clinical decision making.
Heath informatics has and will continue to improve accessibility of health care information by all stakeholders. Traditionally, physicians and nurses collect and document patient data independently. This documentation creates silos whereby important patient information may be missed leading to medical errors. Health informatics tools will, therefore, help to integrate patient data collected by different health professionals. Adoption of electronic medical records will, in particular, help to reduce medical errors attributable to lack of information or inaccurate medical records. They will also help nurses to monitor the disease, medications, hospital and emergency department visits, and other aspects of health history of their clients. Such information will be used to guide decision making and care planning.
Integrated health informatics systems enable the collection, faster and more efficient storage, retrieval, and analysis of clinical and financial variables. It will thus transform the way research, monitoring, and evaluation of patient-related outcomes is done (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2010).
Informatics will also change nursing roles and responsibilities. More nurses will specialize in the newly introduced specialty of nursing informatics (National League for Nursing, 2008). These advanced practice nurses will be responsible for designing and implementing clinical information systems. On the other hand, nurses will dedicate more time providing direct patient care because the time spent doing documentation will be reduced. Nurses will also have to broaden the focus of patient education to include information on how to store, retrieve, and interpret data from electronic health records and websites.
In conclusion, health informatics has and will continue to transform healthcare in the nursing profession in numerous ways. These include but are not limited to increasing the use of evidence-based information in clinical decision making, expanding the roles of nursing practitioners, and improving monitoring and evaluation of clinical and financial outcomes.
National League for nursing (2008). Preparing the next generation of nurses to practice in a technology-rich environment: An informatics agenda. Retrieved from http://www.nln.org/aboutnln/positionstatements/informatics_052808.pdf.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2010). Patient safety and the electronic health record. Retrieved from http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_ Patient_Safety_and_Quality_Improvement/Patient_Safety_and_the_Electronic_Health.