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What is Nursing Informatics and Why is it so Important

Nursing informatics is based on Francois Gremy’s Informatique medical also meaning medical informatics. Medical informatics is used to describe information and technologies related to patient care. Nursing informatics is an emerging field that continues to rely on the use of information and technology systems to deliver quality care.

Nursing Informatics: History and Definition

Medical informatics is described as the information technologies related to patient care to be used by healthcare professionals in the decision-making process. Nursing informatics is a more specific term that means the use of information technologies that are related to carrying out nursing functions. Any use of information by nurses in providing care for patients, management of healthcare facilities, patient education, and nursing education can also be said to be nursing informatics.

Nursing informatics can also include the use of decision support systems or artificial systems in carrying out nursing functions. It can also include using computer systems to educate patients and students of nursing. The use of hospital information systems for retrieving, recording, and updating patient and medical records is part of nursing informatics.

The American Nurses Association has defined nursing informatics as integration of nursing science with information and computer science. This integration is used in the administration and communication of information and knowledge in the nursing profession. In providing care for patients, nurses make use of more information than any other healthcare professional.

Informatics has the potential to improve the quality of patient care and the nursing profession. Since nursing informatics has become a nursing specialty, many hospitals and other healthcare facilities have hired informatics nurse consultants and specialists. Their role is to help design and implement information systems. Computer information systems are used by nurse educators in gathering information on how nursing students learn. The data will then be processed for research.

Knowledge Workers in the Information Age

Nurses use all types of data and information throughout the practice of their profession. The information that nurses know translates to knowledge. Nurses use their knowledge by helping create a plan for the care and treatment of patients. They also have the choice to use the data in improving the existing procedures or healthcare plans. In this regard, nurses may also be called knowledge workers.

The world today is said to be shifting to the Information Age from an Industrial Age. In this day and age, industrial laborers are slowly being replaced by technologists. These are people who are knowledgeable in both hands and minds. There are limited jobs available to industrial workers because they do not possess the educational background or thinking of knowledge workers. Knowledge workers are people who can become innovators. The work they do is important for the growth and sustainability of the organization. Knowledge workers have a specialized educational background. They can control their work environments and have the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams.

Nurses have similar characteristics to knowledge workers. The nursing profession uses medical knowledge and processes patient information to help provide solutions for a patient’s health problem. On a daily basis, nurses depend on their specialized knowledge and clinical information to assess and implement patient care outcomes. It is in the nature of nurses to gather data. They collect and record information while they are on duty. They gather a patient’s historical data, check for vital signs and other patient-related information.

The nurses will transform into users of information when they interpret the data they have gathered. Their assessment will become part of clinical data that will be used to administer patient care. Nurses have always played a major role in communicating with patients and the healthcare system. This role may also be called information management.

Purpose of Nursing Informatics

The goal of nursing informatics is to help improve the health of individuals, families, and communities through effective and efficient use of information management and communication. The optimal use of information and technology in nursing involves the establishment of efficient systems in lifelong learning, nursing research, and education.

In modern-day healthcare settings, it is important to have timely access to necessary clinical and financial information. Emphasis is placed on safe, cost-effective, and timely healthcare delivery. Healthcare information systems are expected to increase quality and efficiency. Hospitals are expected to engage consumers actively while in their care.

Informatics may be the solution to the pending human resource shortage of nursing professionals. This focus on information technology provides sufficient support to nurses in their own work environments. The use of information technology also enables nurses to spend more time with patient care than updating patient records. By creating more time to focus on healthcare consumers, timely access to knowledge and information leads to safer and high-quality patient care.

Clinical Decision Support Systems

Health care information systems have gone a long way from where they are now. Conventional systems can no longer meet the current demands of health care and the operations of the health care providers. As technology will improve, so should be the information systems used in hospitals and care centers. This is important so that they can serve the growing population more efficiently and effectively. The computerization of decision support systems was a necessity with the development of microcomputers, distributed computation, and time-sharing operating systems.

Tools for clinical decision support have evolved over the years from the traditional notion of reference textbooks and other written resources. Clinical computing allows nurses to access different sources of information and present the data to a physician as immediate support. The timely delivery of information is an added benefit to deliver safer patient care and improved clinical outcomes.

As technology continues to develop and evolve, decision support systems also emerged. A decision support system is a type of computer program application that would help in the analysis of business data. The data will be presented so that the users of the data can easily make decisions easily. The decision support system is an informational application. It is also a way to make models of the data and make quality decisions that will be based on them. Arriving at the appropriate decision should be based on the quality of the data gathered and the ability of the user to go through and analyze each one. It is through this way that trends can be found in order to create strategies and solutions to problems. Decision support systems are usually composed of computer applications together with a human element that will go through huge quantities of data and be able to select between the available choices.

Challenges in Nursing Informatics

The field of nursing informatics has grown over the years. However, there are challenges that need to be addressed to further improve informatics. A significant knowledge gap among nurse leaders in the community may affect the goal of nursing informatics. Many leaders in nursing will need to acquire new knowledge and skills in order to understand and hasten the adoption of information technology in inpatient care. Advocates of nursing informatics have created strategies to help determine the additional education required by nurse leaders. Another strategy to advance the goals of nursing informatics is to develop programs for mentorship.

Despite efforts to establish the full implementation of clinical information systems in all healthcare facilities and hospitals in the United States, there are still many others with limited capabilities. Nurses in those facilities have limited online functionality since some healthcare providers are still in the early stages of adoption and implementation. This limitation may be viewed as an opportunity for nurses to contribute to the effort to provide information technology solutions to support their profession.

Throughout the years, nurses have suffered from systems that did not add significant value to their work. Nurses on the receiving end of a new technology may find themselves with the burden of additional work because the system was poorly designed. The greatest challenge in nursing informatics is to create and implement information technologies with real and measured benefits to support healthcare teams in clinical practice.

Due to the average of nurses currently in practice, many have yet to be comfortable in using computers in their work environments especially units relating to healthcare information systems. Computer literacy should be improved to realize the full integration of nursing informatics in the nursing profession. Nurse leaders should therefore be provided with the necessary materials and resources to acquire competencies in nursing informatics.

The core competencies and skills of nursing informatics should be patterned after a model of integrated education. When simulating clinical settings, knowledge in informatics must be combined with interdisciplinary teams and the process of decision-making. The incorporation of Electronic Health Record applications are should be perfect for existing simulation laboratories. The concept of a learning laboratory will more likely resemble the emerging clinical settings equipped with IT systems.

Opportunities for Growth

As technology continues to develop at a rapid rate, this career holds a lot of promise for the future of the nursing profession as well as the healthcare industry. Opportunities such as the improvement of training for health professionals, advanced application of clinical decision support systems, and more effective healthcare delivery should be pursued with nursing informatics.

Where work in nursing informatics jobs

General employers for nursing informatics employees cover a wide range of care from hospital to medical practice, as well as consulting agencies, universities, and corporations. Job titles that match these professional qualifications include:

  • Clinical analyst
  • Informatics nurse specialist
  • Director – Clinical Informatics
  • Clinical Informatics Coordinator

What is nursing informatics salary

The demand for nursing informatics will not diminish any time soon. Not only will the older U.S. population need more caregivers, but it will also need all the help we can get to control healthcare costs. This will require a growing number of nursing informatics analysts. The Journal of Nurses quotes an American Medical Informatics Association as saying that over the next five years, 80,000 nursing informatics specialists or analysts may be needed, with the growth and analysis of information required by health information technology for economic and clinical health legislation (HITECH)  and patient protection and Of the Accountability Care Act (PPACA)

References

ANA, “Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice,” 2nd Edition, ANA as quoted at https://www.himss.org/what-nursing-informatics.

Nurse Journal, “Nursing Informatics Career & Salary,” (2021), Retrieved at https://nursejournal.org/nursing-informatics/nursing-informatics-career-outlook/.

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