Nursing Informatics is defined as a specialty that combines information science, nursing science and computer science to run and communicate knowledge, data and information in nursing profession. According to Michael D. Hart, nursing informatics assists in the assimilation of knowledge, information and data to aid nurses, patients and other care providers in their decision-making processes (2008, p.328). The support is attained through health information systems. Consequently, this paper will discuss the role of nursing informatics in today’s healthcare delivery system.
The Role of Information Technology in Care Delivery
A number of studies have dwelled upon the role of information technology in the nursing profession since 1985. A substantial segment of these studies were either restricted to students and school curriculum or were done in foreign states whose education systems were different from those found in the United States. According to the ANA Scope and Standards of Nursing Informatics Practice, information technology offers a critical aspect with respect to nursing informatics, processes and objectives. Over the last two decades, the principal field of research (on the use of information technology by nurses in the clinical milieu) has mainly focused on assessing nurses’ perceptions toward information technology. Attitude has been identified as the main factor that determines whether nurses, patients and other healthcare providers intend to use information technology in their decision-making processes. Nevertheless, with the current national efforts toward comprehensive integration of information technology in the healthcare system, nurses have no option but to embrace technology in their healthcare profession (Hart, 2008 p.321).
It is worthy to note that assessment of nursing informatics competency in the workplace has not been normalized at job-specific level in spite of the fact that the content to be taught has been established. As a result, the progress made with respect to informatics-competent nursing populace has rather been slow. In fact, the slow progress toward informatics competency has severely dented the overall ability of the nurses to efficiently develop and utilize current efforts to adopt evidence-based practice. Concerns on shortages of nursing workforce, aging baby boomers and federal efforts to adopt electronic healthcare systems emphasize the urgent need for the development of job-specific normalized informatics-competencies. A number of healthcare experts content that new graduates are techno-savvy thus the problem with the present nursing populace will be alleviated soon. Nonetheless, a number of limiting aspects reduce the number of graduates from nursing courses and ignore the fact that the current crop of nurses have not gained from the latest adjustments in the university curricula (Hart, 2008, p.325).
The Role of Tele-ICUs in Care Administration
There is no doubt that the healthcare system is currently facing numerous challenges. The highest number of patients in the emergency rooms will increase with age. Consequently, healthcare institutions will be compelled to bolster their critical care capabilities and simultaneously hire additional medical staff at great cost. The need to adopt information technology in healthcare delivery system cannot be overemphasized (Crilly, Keefe & Volpe, 2011, p.1163). For example, healthcare institutions need to adopt telemedicine-described as using medical information relayed from one site to another through an electronic platform-to improve the health conditions of patients in ICUs (Crilly, Keefe & Volpe, 2011, p.1164).
The title tele-ICU refers to the existence of telemedicine technology in the administration of care to patients in the ICU. Tele-ICU employs advanced systems that evaluate changes in status of the clients swiftly. There are different types of tele-ICUs such as Tele-ICU Staff, Tele-ICU Physician, Tele-ICU RN, among others. The tele-ICU operates although the day and is supported by emergency nurses. The tele-ICU physicians (also known as ePhysicians) are board-approved intensivists credentialed in every participating hospital. Tele-ICU physicians offer intervention and oversight relevant to the safety of patients (Goran, 2010, p.48). A number of tele-ICU RNs collaborate with tele-ICU to alleviate the considerable emotion and physical requirements of full-time bedside care (Goran, 2010, p.49).
In a typical emergency environment, experience a lot of interruptions which results into fatigues and consequently medical errors. For example, a doctor or a nurse (while attending to one patient) may fail to notice changes in the status of the second patient that warrants instant attention. The tele-ICU provides an additional aid for emergency practitioners in clinical support and surveillance. In essence, the tele-ICU collaborates with the bedside team thereby reducing distractions and delivering well-timed lifesaving interventions that are critically needed for patient safety (Goran, 2010, p.47).
Nursing and Electronic Documentation
According to Kelley, Brandon and Docherty (2011), documentation of patient care is a basic, yet vital skill employed by nurses to record patients’ conditions as well as their reactions to care (p.154). Prior to the digital era, nurses utilized paper-based forms (such as flow sheets and narrative notes) to relay important information about patients. Nonetheless, all hospitals in the US are expected to implement electronic health records (such as electronic nursing documentation) by 2014 in their healthcare delivery systems. The electronic nursing documentation has new attributes such as electronic interfaces, copy and paste and drop-down menus not common in paper documents. A nurse can use these new features (such as copy and paste option) to transfer previous information for use in the current evaluation via a few clicks of the mouse. In addition, a nurse can use the electronic nursing documentation to automatically transfer critical information from cardio-respiratory monitors into flow sheets via interfaces without the need to write out this data onto a piece of paper (Kelley, Brandon & Docherty, 2011, p.155).
There is no doubt that electronic documentation improves the quality of healthcare delivery system. According to Kelley, Brandon and Docherty (2011), quality is regarded as the degree to which healthcare services offered to patients improve their general health condition (p.155). Quality can thus be described in terms of structure, process and results. The structure relates to the use of nursing informatics (electronic nursing documentation) in healthcare delivery system. The process entails the interaction between care givers and information technology (i.e. tele-ICUs) in care delivery. The result relates to the positive outcomes of patients’ conditions due to the integration of information technology in healthcare deliver system (Kelley, Brandon & Docherty, 2011, p.156).
Summary and Conclusion
As noted above, there is a need to adopt information technology in today’s healthcare delivery system. The demand for healthcare services is projected to rise exponentially as more baby boomers grow old. The cost of hiring new medical staff and treating patients with chronic diseases is also expected to increase. Consequently, electronic technologies (such as tele-ICUs and electronic nursing documentation) must be broadly adopted to not only improve the quality of healthcare outcomes but also reduce the cost of healthcare deliver system. Personally, I believe that nursing informatics is a critical element in today’s healthcare delivery system.
Crilly, F.J., Keefe H.R., & Volpe, F. (2011). Use of Electronic Technologies to Promote Community and Personal Health for Individuals Unconnected to Health Care Systems. American Journal of Public Health, 101, 1163-1167.
Goran F.S. (2010). A Second Set of Eyes: An Introduction to Tele-ICU. Critical Care Nurse, 30, 46-56.
Hart, D.M. (2008). Informatics Competency and Development Within the US Nursing Population Workforce: A Systematic Literature Review. Computer, informatics, Nursing, 26, 320-329.
Kelley, T.F., Brandon, D.H., & Docherty, S.L. (2011). Clinical Scholarship: Electronic Nursing Documentation as a Strategy to Improve Quality of Patient Care. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 43, 154-162.