A: The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society defines nursing informatics as “a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice.” Informatics is becoming increasingly present in our profession due to rapidly changing technologic advances. Healthcare systems are assimilating technology into daily practice at a quick pace. Security and patient privacy must be upheld while achieving the goal of transforming data into useful knowledge. Integrating informatics with evidence-based practice (EBP) can only help improve the care we provide to our patients.
Applying technology to knowledge may help identify potential problems earlier. For example, with the use of electronic documentation, identifying changes in patient status can occur quickly because the information is readily available. Trending of patient vital signs is always accessible and the data are interpreted, systematized, and arranged. The nurse is able to use this knowledge to formalize an appropriate plan of action.
Standardizing nursing language will facilitate acceptance of new methods of documentation in the electronic health record. A template for nursing notes is one method of assisting with our daily workload. The use of a template can remind you of important information required in the documentation of patient care.
Research studies, patient care data, and national and local standards are used to develop informatics programs at healthcare organizations. Other measures include return on investment analysis, patient preferences and/or needs, and infection control data. How's the need for technology addressed? Let's say a high rate of medication errors is identified. Analysis of how and why the errors are occurring must be conducted. The research can include collecting data from other facilities in the area to determine if the same problem exists elsewhere. Following data collection, the findings are presented to a review board. A plan to improve the problem is implemented, such as the use of bar code scanners. Data collection continues to determine if implementation is successful. The most important piece of implementation is presentation of the evidence to staff to identify how the change will improve the day-to-day actions of nurses.
Nursing informatics is a growing field. As nurses, we face ever changing and challenging practice situations; competency in nursing informatics promises to strengthen our clinical decision-making skills. Although new technology may be a challenge for some, informatics will enhance nursing practice. We'll have quicker access to patient information, improve overall efficiency, and see a reduction in potential errors.
As our profession continues to advance, nursing informatics has the potential to change our practice for the better, not only for us as nurses, but also for our patient population.
Learn more about it
Bakken S. An informatics infrastructure is essential for evidence-based practice. J Am Med Inform Assoc
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Nursing informatics 101. http://www.himss.org/files/HIMSSorg/handouts/NI101.pdf
The TIGER Initiative. Informatics competencies for every practicing nurse: recommendations from the TIGER Collaborative. http://www.thetigerinitiative.org/docs/TigerReport_InformaticsCompetencies.pdf