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Informatics is a field of nursing that includes computer and information sciences that maintain and mature medical data and systems to progress patient care outcomes. Informatics support the nurse, patient, health-related billing services, and all other personnel represented in the interdisciplinary team. This support is accomplished using information technology, information assemblies, and information developments. Technologies that have evolved due to nursing informatics include; electronic health records (EHR), computerized provider order entry (CPOE), electronic medical records (EMRs), information systems (ISs), test and lab results, and nursing and physician progress notes. The introduction and boom of nursing informatics have led to better patient outcomes, along with negative impacts to personal patient information.
Introduction of Nursing Informatics
Informatics has been involved in nursing for many years, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s and 90’s that informatics would gain a giant leap into the nursing industry. The American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) was founded in 1982. Their mission is to make advancements in nursing informatics through research, education, and practices in all health care settings. In the article The ‘IT’ Nurse by Amy Collins, she interviewed the chief nursing officer for IBM Global Healthcare (Judy Murphy) and she stated that computers were introduced into the nursing world in the early 90’s and most nurses didn’t have a home computer at that time, they learned how to operate a computer while learning how to navigate electronic health records at work (Collins, 2018, p. 65).
The rapid growth of nursing informatics since the ‘90’s has had many positive effects on patient outcomes. Health care workers can view medically related information with lightening like speed. They can access current and past test results without having to search through stacks of physical papers. One example is that trending lab results and vital signs can be compared side-by-side on one screen, and new results can be updated even without the nurse having to input the information. Better nursing judgements can be made by the rapid speed of obtaining patient information. Within seconds, a nurse can scroll through patient histories, lab results, vital signs, IV site and placement date, nurse’s notes, and other valuable patient information.
Minimizing Health Care Errors
Technology advances have provided the opportunity to minimize health care related errors. The upgrade from hand-written physician orders to computerized physician orders have nearly eliminated reader error. Computerized charting also allows the ability to get automatic notifications, which is a great benefit in a career that is always timeline demanding. Automatic notifications trigger follow-up responses and reminders that may be overlooked by and overworked and overstressed nurse. In the article Nurses and the Migration to Electronic, Megen Duffy, BSN, RN, CEN states that less errors were made when she wrote, “There’s some evidence of decreased duplication…” with regards to computerized charting (Duffy, 2015, p. 62).
Cyber Attacks Through Informatics
Although there are many advantages to informatics and technology, there are equally disadvantages as well. The dawn of the internet has brought its own complications that criminals take advantage of. Personal information that is accessed and used between providers and other health care workers are vulnerable to unwanted quest and hackers. In the article What Nurses Need to Know About Cybersecurity, Serena Stockwell states that health care cyber data is more valuable to criminals than any other data. Partial electronic health records (EHRs) sold for as much as $50, compared to $1 for credit card numbers and social security cards on the dark web (Stockwell, 2018, pg. 17).
My Personal Thoughts on Informatics
I believe that nursing informatics play a vital role in today’s health care system. We live in an era where technology is the leading financial industry in the world because it is highly valued and used in daily activities. Health care benefits tremendously from nursing informatics because it allows the nurse to use and display information faster than it ever has before. I started my career in nursing seven years ago. The first five years were spent in facilities that used paper charting systems and medication administration records. Patient information was displayed in book-size charts that had to be divided into sections of information. Placing a phone call to a doctor to request a new order meant that I had to have the patient’s chart next to me and it took extra time to search for additional information if the doctor requested it during the phone call. Today, I can access patient information from any work computer available and it allows me to not have to have the physical chart near me as I patiently wait for a doctor’s call back. Also, this allows other health care workers to access patient information compared to when I used to lug around the physical chart. Another great aspect to digital data is that I can access physician’s progress notes for my own learning needs. In the emergency room, I come across a lot of patients that are diagnosed with something other than what I personally predicted. I then take a few minutes to go back to the physician’s dictation and get an insight from the doctor’s perspective. Accessing the doctor’s notes would not be possible if I had to spend time flipping through physical pages because I am very limited on time in the emergency room on most days. My growth in personal knowledge has increased substantially because of the easy access to college’s patient’s assessments and notes.
The boom of nursing informatics has had many positive and negative effects on patient outcomes. Health care workers can access patient’s information with rapid speeds. Information can be accessed from any location that possess internet and it allows multiple health care workers to access the information at the same time. Trending values can be accessed without having to view multiple sources and they can be updated automatically. The advances with technology in informatics have led to quicker results and minimized health care related errors.
- Collins, A. M. (2018). The ‘IT’ nurse. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 118(2), 65–66. doi:10.1097/01.naj.0000530251.76205.5b
- Duffy, M. (2015). Nurses and the migration to electronic health records. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 115(12), 61–66. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000475294.12738.83
- Stockwell, S. (2018). What nurses need to know about cybersecurity. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 118(12), 17–18. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000549682.13264.dc
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