Nursing Informatics and the Nurse Informaticist
The evolving health care and growing informatics, along with the increase of health information technologies, introduce a need for nurse informaticists who are leaders and managers who are also trained in informatics. (Backonja, 2020). Although nursing informatics has been recognized as a specialty in nursing, the understanding of what it means is still insufficient. Nursing informatics integrates technology with nursing care information systems and the data used in all health care facilities. It improves patient information, reduces errors for nurses, and allows users to see clinician’s orders in real time. Nursing informatics is also referred to as clinical informatics coordinators and informatics clinicians who work closely with the information technology team (IT) in each facility. Few organizations governed the roles of a nurse informaticist, such as The American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA), Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI), and American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC). (Backonja, 2020). The role of the nurse informaticist is complex and presupposes several vital functions. First, they work as developers of communication between the main stakeholders by providing them with access to required information technologies and explaining how to use them to attain the best possible outcome (Backonja, 2020). Second, these specialists combine the knowledge of healthcare and information systems to store, process, and manage amounts of data, including patient records and new treatment ways, generated during the provision of care (Backonja, 2020). For this reason, nurse informaticist’s role presupposes the creation of the digitalized framework for the effective work of caregivers and patients’ improved outcomes.
Nurse Informatics and Other Health Care Organizations
Nursing informatics is essential not only for the hospital systems but for other organizations, such as State Health Departments, Universities, ambulatory care, and private health care vendors. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law in 2009 by President Obama. This law includes the Health Information and Technology for Economic Clinical Health Act (HITECH). Under HITECH, physicians are rewarded financially for using electronic health records (HER), however, under the same law, they risk being penalized when not used. (Sweeney, 2017). Having a nurse informaticist within the organization will facilitate the teaching and training of new information and implementing new policies, such as electronic medical record (EMR) and Telemedicine, user-friendly for both staff and patients.
The importance of nurse informatics for healthcare organization’s work is also evidenced by its positive impact on outcomes. The existing literature states that it can help to reduce the chance of medical errors in health units and minimize the associated cost (Williams et al., 2019). This result is achieved by addressing the main factors leading to the emergence of errors, such as poor communication between caregivers, incorrect or incomplete information, and ineffective data sharing (Sweeney, 2017). Using nursing informatics, organizations can enhance the management of these aspects and create the digitalized framework vital for improved communication and data sharing. It preconditions the decreased mistake rate and costs of treatment, which is critical for the modern healthcare sector (Hollander & Carr, 2020). Moreover, nursing informatics can enhance end-to-end treatment and cultivate the continuity of care by creating protocols and processes vital for meaningful interaction between departments, teams, and specialists (ANI, n.d.). Using detailed electronic records, caregivers can benefit from relevant and up-to-date data about a particular case and improve the healthcare organization’s work.
Impact of Full Nurse Engagement in Health Care Technology
Nurses who are fully engaged in health care technology foster an environment where nursing care produces a positive patient outcome. One of the most used technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic is telemedicine, nurses can prioritize patients’ needs, it is more convenient and less expensive for patients. Providing patients with telemedicine facilitate opportunities for patients living in rural areas who have to travel hours for health care and for those who just cannot afford the expenses of traveling. (Hollander & Carr, 2020). With telemedicine, nurses can educate patients on how to locate their health records using portal mobile access daily. With this mobile access, they can reschedule appointments, view labs, and diagnostic results, and also communicate with physicians. The use of telemedicine and mobile apps generates the better management of important patient information, which falls under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
Nurses who have access to patient information have to comply with HIPPA, patient information should only be accessible when care is offered and pertinent info is needed. Having an EMR will help generate information because this is where a selected interdisciplinary team will direct patient care. EMRs are not only foster a productive working environment, but also allows nurses to carry through doctor’s orders more efficiently, allowing for a swift recovery for the patients. NI’s another function is the alignment of the interaction between team members, ensuring that they use available technologies and information systems to improve work effectiveness and performance (Kokol et al., 2018). It includes the timely provision of information about patients, their histories, and treatments stored in databases (Williams et al., 2019). Moreover, NI might collaborate with the management department to effectively plan schedules, interventions, and interactions with patients (Williams et al., 2019). In such a way, this specialist’s contribution to the functioning of the interdisciplinary team is significant and includes improved decision-making, resting on the provided information, alignment of cooperation between all hospital units and reduced mistake rate, and facilitation of the evidence-based research through the provision of relevant information on certain cases (Williams et al., 2019). It means a NI increases the effectiveness of interdisciplinary teams by offering access to information technology and benefits associated with it.
Every facility or business investment is necessary to generate revenue and continue to be successful. Adding an informaticist to any health care system will be costly, but the organization will benefit not only with patient care; but also with patient quality surveys regarding their stay in the hospital. If the surveys are positive, they can potentially generate federal funds that can help to build and improve on the facility, according to the survey.
Opportunities and Challenges
Nursing informatics should also be considered an essential component of evidence-based practice (EBP) which is viewed as the central approach to healthcare today. This method presupposes the broad use of relevant research data to analyze various cases and use the most effective treatment methods. Additionally, EBP presupposes sharing information with other team members to discuss it and collaborate (Williams et al., 2019). Under these conditions, the application of nursing informatics becomes critical for using EBP by health workers. First, it provides them with an opportunity to structure data related to a certain patient, share it with stakeholders involved in the treatment process and create the platform for its discussion using available information technology (Rigby et al., 2016). At the same time, NI remains responsible for observing the major patient’s rights, such as privacy of data, confidentiality, and security, meaning that he/she should use specific approaches to protect information (Rigby et al., 2016). The existing EBP standards also emphasize the necessity for using informatics to access recent research and databases containing similar cases.
Scientific processes peculiar to the healthcare sphere can also be improved by using IT technology. The existing research-based standards emphasize the critical role of informatics in fostering multiple investigations (Rigby et al., 2016). The technology provides an opportunity to better collect, process, and analyze data coming from various sources. At the same time, specialists working in the given sphere become active participants in most research projects providing an opportunity to employ innovations to attain enhanced outcomes and facilitate further research (Rigby et al., 2016). Under these conditions, nursing informatics and EBP are inseparable today and promote improvement in the healthcare sphere and patient outcomes.
The first challenge to overcome is a rejection of a new system or role, therefore, the committee will have the opportunity to educate the other members on the role of a nursing informaticist. The education can focus on utilizing informatics in the healthcare setting, which can improve morale and generate a positive patient outcome. The generated information should be accurate and current, whether related to implementing an EMR or giving training for a new EKG machine.
Summary of Recommendation
Hiring a nurse informaticist will help an organization or health care facility execute quality care for their patients. This specialist will use her/his nursing judgment while incorporating science and technology to educate nurses and other disciplines. Studies have shown that organizations have improved work environments and generate checkups with telemedicine. This progress was achieved due to the hard work of nurse informaticists as technology continues to develop. (Kokol et al., 2018). Organizations would benefit by adapting to the changes and rising with the new technology in health care by hiring a nurse informaticist.
Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI). (n.d.). Accelerate health – HIMSS & ANA nurse innovation. ANI. Web.
Backonja, U. (2020). Understanding support for a nursing informatics leadership pipeline: An ANI emerging leader project. Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 38(11), p 543–544. Web.
Hollander, J. E., & Carr, B. G. (2020). Virtually perfect? Telemedicine for Covid-19. The New England Journal of Medicine, 382(18), 1679–1681.
Kokol, P., Saranto, K., & Vošner, H. (2018). eHealth and health informatics competences. Kybernetes, 47(5), 1018-1030.
Rigby, M., Magrabi, F., Scott, P., Doupi, P., Hypponen, H., & Ammenwerth, E. (2016). Steps in moving evidence-based health informatics from theory to practice. Healthcare Informatics Research, 22(4), 255–260. Web.
Sweeney, J. (2017). Healthcare Informatics. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics, 21(1). Web.
Williams, F., Oke, A., & Zachary, I. (2019). Public health delivery in the information age: the role of informatics and technology. Perspectives in Public Health, 139(5), 236–254.