According to Kumar, 2004, informatics is a combination of computer science, information science, and nursing science. Informatics aims at assisting nursing managers in the processing of data and provision of knowledge in support of nursing as a practice, and enhancement of quality care delivery to the patients. Therefore an attempt to use information technologies by nurses and nursing managers with respect to the care of the patients, administration of a healthcare facility, or preparation of individuals towards various practices is referred to as nursing informatics. The current rise in technological aspects presents a situation within the society whereby all processes are required to utilize information systems. Health practitioners are highly expected to resort to the use of modern technology to enhance healthcare delivery. The field of nursing is experiencing demand for the use and application of informatics competencies which could enable nurses to perform their responsibilities and upgrade the standards of their various performances. The application of informatics implies the incorporation of information technology in the process of direct healthcare provision, the establishment of efficient administrative systems, management and education delivery as well as supporting nursing research (Murray & Maag, 2007).
Uses of information could be classified in two main ways which include information systems providing managers with information for decision-making purposes and those MIS systems which assist nursing managers in communicating the decisions made (Marriner, 2004). As a result, there are areas in a nursing environment that brings out the importance of nursing informatics, these areas incorporate such activities as follows:
- Management nurses are capable of improving on quality management, unit staffing, and reporting processes.
- The usage and adaptation of Management information systems have also been observed to positively affect the efficiency of nursing managers since the managers can accurately and efficiently access information on nursing staff characteristics, staffing patterns, and institutional planning, as well as budgeting trends, needs projection (Kumar, 2007).
- There is a reduction in time wastage between data collection and availing it to the nurse manager.
- The system helps in the designing and installation of a nursing staff scheduling time.
- Due to the automation of a patient information system, nurses are able to account for the evaluation and correct substantiation of a patient’s progress (Proehl, 1993).
Management information systems in nursing informatics
The word management information system has been defined by many authors in more than one way. However the definition is given and regardless of the organization in question, all definitions may contain the following words: men, machine, and procedures. Although, the three words seem to be the defining words, the keyword that qualifies the three is the word, “data collection”. By definition, therefore, an information system is a way of combining man and machines for providing the information to support the operations, decision-making, and management in an organization (Kumar, 2004).
Classification of information systems
Office automation systems and Transaction processing systems
They are systems characterized by repetitive, short-term input/output-oriented systems used directly by a large number of end-users. Most accounting systems like billing, payroll, and invoicing belong to this category. The striking characteristic of this category is that they are very user-friendly, their information support is simple, and they are usable with personal computers as opposed to mainframes. Besides, they are also compatible with standardized software. Transaction processing systems fall under the commercial applications of computers, which include invoicing, order entry, stores, dispatch and accounting (Tallon, 1996).
Decision support systems
Within the modern context, machines specifically refer to computers. The usage of computers ensures the generation of superior quality reports as well as enhancement of information reliability. It was earlier mentioned that quality and reliability in reports is the backbone of the emergence of Management Information systems, leading to decision-making as a management process. Decision-making has to be supported by accurate processed data as opposed to raw data. Careful examination of Management Information systems, reveals that it is made up of three component words; management, Information and system. If each of these words is considered singly, MIS in a management perspective involves the ultimate use of systems in managing decision-making rather than its technology aspect (Kumar, 2004). On the other hand, the information part of MIS emphasizes on processed data used rather than raw data used by both managers of an organization and other end users of such data. Finally, the word system forms part of MIS because it involves an integration process that brings together different systems, each not independent but dependent on one another such that the combined end result is an MIS (HealthConnect, 2004).
The success of any MIS in any one given nursing organization depends on a deeper understanding of the structure and dynamics of the organizations. Each organization embraces an MIS system depending on its structure and dynamics, since during implementation, an analyst is supposed to understand the kind of information which needs to be collected, stored and analyzed (Ball, 2005).
In a nursing environment, management information systems have various impacts such as; Increase in nursing accountability, reliability of nursing documentation, changes are impacted in nursing care due to the integration on an MIS in a nursing organization, costs and consumerisms in nursing are eventually placed under check. But before making a choice of integrating and adopting an MIS, it should remember the full involvement of the junior nursing staff in the implementation stage of an MIS otherwise it may fail for lack of pertinent knowledge from the management. Implementing may involve three stages such as; Substitution which involves replacement of old technology with new MIS, Innovation stage which entails the manual way of data handling as given in a new perspective of computer usage and transformation stage which involves re-invention of the way the business done through the use of computers.
Importance of Management Information Systems
- Assists the top management in a nursing organization to gain relevant experiences relevant towards the operations involved within the organization.
- It assists nursing institutions in patient care delivery, billing and monitoring processes
Office automation systems
In any organization, the primary goal that the management expects from its staff is to have a high productivity from its employees. As a result, means should be found which enhances the performances within an organization. This could be achieved by the introduction of machines that can accept a set of predetermined conditions in order to give out a desired output. One way of doing this is to introduce automation in offices. As mentioned earlier, solutions have to be put in place in order to assist employees’ improve their performance. Consequently, office automation systems are employed. This involves the usage of mechanical, electrical and electronic devices to enhance communication in a nursing environment (Singh, 2007). It seeks to create a technology-driven environment by providing individuals with effective ways of processing personal and organizational data, performing calculations and creation of documents. Office automation systems are categorized based on computer packages as discussed below.
This involves the use of electronic devices for the purposes of automatic creation of documents which would have been otherwise produced manually by use of a pen and paper. All kinds of known documents that help in communication within an organization of any given size includes; letters, memos and reports which are normally directed to the manager from his employees or from the employees to manager could be created on word processing packages electronically by the use of word processing packages like Microsoft word (Woodward, 1995). This also makes it easier for nurses to empower the patients offering them one of the highly valid potential benefits. This is since they could grant patients opportunity to access their records within the shortest time possible. They could view the submissions from various health contributors and even have the potential to add to the report, creating a comprehensive health history for review.
Electronic mail is commonly used for the purposes of exchanging information among computers which are on certain networks. Sharing of information among these computers could be made possible even interdepartmentally or intra-departmentally provided they are locally networked. Users of electronic mail could possibly send and receive messages, store and retrieve information using computer terminals and storage devices. Mails are sent electronically from one computer to another. In day to day usage of electronic mail, e-mail is commonly used to refer to this mode of information exchange which is of great relevance to nursing field.
Voice mail and Electronic calendaring
In the real sense, there is no clear-cut boundary between electronic mail and voice mail as they all perform storage, enables access to information, retrieving and distributing messages. The only difference between the two is that voice mail uses telephones (Singh, 2007). Traditionally, paper calendars have been used by managers to store appointments. However, technology has improved in this field by the introduction of electronic calendaring for storage and retrieval of appointments. This proves to be a more efficient way of storing such information as permanence and time programming could be achieved by the use of integrated alarm systems which are inbuilt. If computers are on a network, managers could remotely communicate their appointments by the use of the system to all employees throughout an organization, this helps in saving much time. The main advantage of this system is that it guarantees permanence and speed in information transfer (Marriner-Tomey, 2004).
With this mode of communication, nurses who seem geographically dispersed can conduct a conference by use of voice communication equipment. Voice equipment such as mobile phones allows more than two people, for instance, to make a conference call at the same time. Similarly, audio conferencing employs the same mode so that managers and nurses could communicate to a number of their colleagues using audio conferencing. This could also be utilized by nursing tutors to enhance their lecture programs. Multimedia systems on the other hand assists users in the storage, retrieval and processing of different types of data such as texts, video audio, graphics, images and animations. Users could display or share information of a broader scale through the use of multimedia systems.
Nurse scheduling and shift rotation
This is a system of staff relieving one another of duty periodically. The shifting and rotations’ periodicity depends on schedule designed and agreed upon by both the management and the staff involved. Shift scheduling has to be done with care since application of the manual way usually arouses suspicions of bias and favouritism. It has been realized that resistance to centralized scheduling could be drastically reduced if head nurses are given opportunities of preparing their own budgets. Scheduling should be done according to staffing policies (Ball, 2005).
The discussion is basically based on the manual shifting and rotation of staff. However, with the introduction of management information systems computers could be centrally used in the preparation of staff schedule. It should be noted that factors such as analysis of procedures and policies are done through the computer whereby information is fed to represent a kind of rotation or shifts. The computer uses a package which enables the input of certain information about individual nurses so that it would automatically generate and produce scheduled information concerning any one given staff. With the use of computers, the process is said to be automated. There are several advantages associated with automation which includes; cost effectiveness of the process with respect to the number of clerical staff required in designing a schedule, the process is also unbiased, there is equitable application of policies as well as a reliable consistency in scheduling. In most cases schedules are produced in advance giving staff time to prepare for the shifts that they are involved in. on the contrary, automation may not be welcome by some staff due to lack trust in the machine produced schedules (Simpson, 1997, pp 26-27).
Informatics in management is a good tool for nursing managers in the course of their duty. Management of information systems should be embraced and used in all aspects of day to day nursing lifestyle as they are not only beneficial to healthy running of the organization but also provides the best way to give patients quality care. Collection and reproduction of data may be affected by the mode of collection and storage used. This also affects the time involved in its retrieval. As a recommendation, shifting from the manual traditional ways of information processing and retrieval to highly automated modern day methods by the use of management information systems should be a duty of every manager, not only in a nursing environment. As mentioned in the advantages of office automation systems, communication between the managers of organization and its staff could be affected by the media used. It has also been found that media used affects the number of audience reached at any given instance. Adopting a means that enables managers to a sizable number of recipients increases the efficiency in communication and also defines the effectiveness of the contents of the communication. Besides, the amount of data stored by paper is very low. Also the time taken to store for instance a page of data manually is very much lower that when stored on electronic storage media like computers. Therefore, information systems for management are entirely good.
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