Nursing Informatics Role on Improving Healthcare

nurse with computer

On May 12th, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) observes Nursing Informatics Awareness Day along with Florence Nightingale’s birthday. [1] As the first medical professional to use statistics for research, Nightingale receives recognition from HIMSS members as the founder of modern informatics. The group also acknowledges her contribution to hygiene in medicine, which greatly reduced deaths among patients.

Nursing informatics has transformed care delivery over the last four decades by automating patient information and medical knowledge management to produce phenomenal improvements in community well-being. The technology saves patients and providers time and money and facilitates ongoing communication between patients and care providers. Most nurses are familiar with informatics and believe the technology improves operational efficiency and patient outcomes.

Informatics Explained
Nursing informatics has existed as a specialty practice since 1984. [2] The field encompasses many related information technology (IT) disciplines, such as:
• Computer science
• Data recovery
• Decision-making
• Ergonomics
• Ethics
• Imaging
• Information networks
• Patient care

Informatics involves information technology as it applies to delivering nursing care, including training, management and clinical practice. Nursing professionals widely accept and practice the discipline. The field combines IT, computer science and nursing to support caregiving. Using informatics, nurses manage patient and knowledge databases to facilitate improved service. Informatics specialists train in entry-level to intermediate nursing skills and informatics technology to prepare for work in the field.

How Informatics Improves Patient Outcomes
The informatics discipline most notably improves patient outcomes. [3] With electronic health records (EHRs), nursing professionals manage information to coordinate teams, reduce patient errors and produce better diagnostic outcomes. This enhanced ability helps nurses improve service delivery performance. The technology streamlines many formerly time-consuming manual documentation and recording tasks. This workload reduction saves time and money for insurers, care providers and patients. As time passes, technological advancements enhance informatics capabilities and will produce outstanding service improvements.
Modern health care practices are expensive and inefficient. Almost half of all medical procedures are redundant. Sharing information in the contemporary care setting is time-consuming, resulting in service delays and errors. Information shared using advanced informatics technology reduces service times and reduces malpractice claims. The technology improves team communication and improves organizational efficiency by helping employees work toward the same objectives.

Patients are more likely to participate in their own recoveries when they have access to pertinent information. Nursing informatics empowers patients to take a more active role in their care plans. Resources, such as electronic patient portals, allow clients to educate themselves about their conditions and treatments. Patients can monitor their prescriptions and symptoms and communicate with their care providers. The open dialogue produces better patient outcomes and makes patients feel more involved in their own treatments.

Health Care Professionals View Informatics As Highly Beneficial
A survey conducted by the Health Care Information and Management Systems Society reports that responding nursing professionals believe informatics technology improves quality of care. [4] The Institute of Medicine defines quality of care as “the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increases the likelihood of desired patient outcomes and are consistent with professional knowledge.” On a scale of one to seven, over 60-percent of survey respondents rated the impact informatics has made on the nursing profession as a six or seven.

The survey considers when the participating respondents’ institutions hired a dedicated nursing informatics specialist. The poll revealed that the longer an organization practiced standardized informatics, the better the nursing staff perceived service quality. This perception was similar, but slightly higher, among informatics nursing specialists.

In the same survey, over two-thirds of respondents who practiced in organizations including nursing informatics specialists when implementing clinical technology believed that patient records were significantly more accurate. [5] This sentiment was the same despite when an organization hired its first nursing informatics specialist.
The respondents also believed that including nursing informatics specialists in clinical documentation initiatives greatly increased information completeness, especially among organizations that employed a Chief Clinical Informatics Officers (CCIO). Overall, health care executives noticed more improvement in this area compared to frontline nursing staff members.

The respondents also reported that nursing informatics technology greatly enhances their organization’s compliance with medical regulations. In this category, organizations that hired an informatics specialist earlier fared better in poll results.

A Bright Career Outlook for Informatics Specialists
Between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 15-percent job growth in the nursing informatics field. As more baby boomers enter the United States health care network, providers seek qualified informatics professionals to manage patient information. Due to health care reform, an unprecedented number of citizens have access to medical insurance. These two factors, among others, create an ongoing demand for skilled medical information technicians.

The medical community forecasts the baby boomer patient population to require several special purpose health registries to manage their conditions. A cancer registrar is one such registry. Duly, care providers seek job candidates with specialist certifications, such as Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), a demand that will compound as America’s health care system transforms into a unified, digitized information network.

Learn More

Adventist University started building its solid foundation for nursing education in 1908 when it began training nurses so healthcare could be provided for more people. Today they offer cutting edge education and experienced faculty dedicated to helping individuals interested in pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree.

Sources
[1] http://www.himss.org/news/himss-unveils-tribute-florence-nightingale-founder-modern-nursing-nursing-informatics-day
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4825491/
[2] http://hitconsultant.net/2016/03/02/health-informatics-transforming-health-care/
[4] http://www.himss.org/sites/himssorg/files/FileDownloads/2015%20Impact%20of%20the%20Informatics%20Nurse%20Survey%20Full%20Report.pdf
[5] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-6

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