Nursing Informatics Can Transform Patient Care


October 20th, 2010

As information technology develops, we should find that more and more often nursing informatics is becoming more prevalent in helping doctors and other health care professional collect, evaluate, and analyze patient data. Because nurses are often the first gateway through which a patient accesses medical help, they are important cogs in the health care information technology machine, and as such, they should be used more often as legitimate methods of collecting important data.

A recent report, that of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine, actually suggests that there is a way forward by which nursing informatics can make up for some of the weaknesses in current iterations of how health care programs manage the surplus of information available to them.

In one way, nursing informatics can help patients receive care in new ways, especially if these new ways are not location-specific. Of course, nothing will truly replace the benefits of patient-nurse or patient-doctor interaction in real life; however, health information technology can certainly allow other forms of supplementary interaction take place. For example, a nurse at a patient’s side could manage a video consultation with a doctor in another part of the country.

Another way nursing informatics can be effective in improving modern health care is it will encourage nurses to be more likely to turn to digitized records, diagnostic tools, and other technology-driven care delivery methods. Nurses will have to be prepared to skillfully manage technology, such as computers and other health care programs, and integrate it into their patient-care practices. Today’s nurses must be competent with computers or they risk being irrelevant in 21st century health care.

Finally, as health information technology increases both in quality and quantity, new methods of collaborative care will develop, which new nurses must be able to apply in a varied and interdisciplinary health care setting, especially as team and collaborative care become prevalent in health care institutions.

What remains, then, is how exactly the United States will implement these changes and whether or not such implementation will be enough for nursing programs, health care institutions, and so on to put them into effect. Certainly incorporating more courses about nursing informatics into nursing programs will help encourage a fresh generation of nurses to take advantage of the benefits of nursing informatics; however, combining that with the practices of the current system will take some more time before the two can work to full capacity. This report suggests that the roots are already there, but the plant now needs to take shape.

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