Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nursing Informatics

Abstract There have been a lot of changes in health care affecting nursing. These changes have been contributed to by various factors, most importantly technology. It is with the advent of information and communication technologies that the field known as nursing informatics was born. Nursing informatics is a discipline that cuts across information technology, computer science and healthcare to improve the quality of nursing operations, via enhanced communication and documentation. Nursing informatics has brought about efficiency, effectiveness, and patient satisfaction to health care. Introduction The role of nurses in health care has changed over time. This has been contributed to by many factors, one of which is the use of information technology to enhance the delivery of health care. Nursing informatics, otherwise referred to as health informatics is a discipline that cuts across information technology, computer science and healthcare to improve the quality of nursing operations, via enhanced communication and documentation (Kann, 2009). This discipline has to do with the resources, mechanisms and procedures that necessary in optimizing the acquisition, processing, storage, retrieval and utilization of information in healthcare. Nursing informatics applies information and communication technology to the skills and operations of nurses in health care delivery (Robson and Baek, 2009). Background information Informatics was a key element in the healthcare system for the Nazi. Informatics in this case included Nazi eugenics as one of its basic standards. Innovative technologies and systems such as Punch Cards that were used as tabulation and sorting machine as well as the science of health statistics were utilized in gathering, sorting and analyzing information on persons on a large scale than ever before. This information was used during the holocaust to eliminate the inferior groups such as the Jews. The point here is that the technology was very effective in gathering necessary information required by those in authority. Most of the scientists behind this technology went ahead in playing a key role in health informatics even after the war (Robson and Baek, 2009). International use of health informatics started in the 1950s with the proliferation in computers. In the year 1949, Gustav Wager developed the initial professional association for informatics in Germany. Special institutions of higher learning and training programs on informatics started in the 1960s in countries such as France, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands. Research centers on health started to emerge in the 1970s in the United States and Poland. Since then the development of health informatics has become one of the key policies in healthcare in almost every part of the world (Robson and Baek, 2009). Nursing informatics There are various tools that are used in health informatics. These tools include computers and their associated software, healthcare guidelines, health technologies, and information and communication technologies. These tools are applied to nursing and generally to healthcare to achieve efficiency in provision of care to patients (Kann, 2009). Technology assists in all aspects of nursing care to patients from the time when a patient is admitted to when he or she is discharged. From this perspective, technology can be argued to have changed the manner in which diagnosis, treatment, administration of care and management of patients is carried out. The corporation of information and communication technology into the healthcare allows the efficient and effective flow of information gathered by nurses, enhance access to patient information, and improve the ability of nurses in benchmarking, monitoring and auditing quality measures. With the use of technology, the enthusiasm of nursing, information and communication technology, as well as innovation improves the outcomes of patients and improves the quality of nurse-patient relationship (Patton and Gardner, 1999). Experts in health informatics make use of their knowledge and expertise in combination with their knowledge in information aspects, nursing informatics tools and procedures to accomplish different roles (Kann, 2009). One of the roles is to assess information and knowledge requirements of healthcare providers as well as patients. The other role is characterizing, evaluating and refining medical procedures. The third role is in developing, implementing, and refining medical policy support systems. The last role is in leading or participating in the acquisition, customization, designing, development, implementation, maintenance, evaluation and improvement of the information systems in healthcare. Health care providers in collaboration with information technology experts come up with health informatics tools and procedures that make sure that care to patients is safe, effective, efficient, appropriate, patient-centered and reasonable (Patton and Gardner, 1999). Nursing has long realized that better-quality of patient care is dependent on the association of people, technologies and processes. Nursing informatics play a key role in the definition and implementation of the strategy for information and communication technology in support of the delivery of effective and quality healthcare to patients. Healthcare informatics has affected the nursing practice and the patient care. Nurses are able to gather all the information required in an effective and timely manner (Kann, 2009). Patients on the other hand are able to access their personal information and also information regarding their treatment effectively. This has made decision making by the patients easier and inexpensive. Patients are also assured that their information is safe and thus do not find the need to withhold any piece of information for fear that it will land in the wrong hands. The change that has been brought into nursing by nursing informatics is not a change for the sake of it. It is change that has ensured patient satisfaction, information safety and results. There are some healthcare facilities where computers are made available to patients who have long stays in the facility. Patients as well as their relatives are encouraged to suggest ways in which they think their services can be improved. They are also given a chance to provide feedback on the services they are receiving. This information is useful in ensuring patient satisfaction with the service they are being offered (Patton and Gardner, 1999). Conclusion Technology and effective utilization of it is the future of nursing. This future as well as the future of nursing informatics is in line with the future of health care. Technology ensures safety, results and satisfaction of the clients. With this, patients will have a reason to believe in healthcare and being the major stakeholders in it, this is crucial. With the assurance of information safety, patients will be able to disclose vital information necessary for their treatment. The nurses will as a result be able to diagnose and recommend treatment in a more effective way. This will not only ensure patient satisfaction, but will also strengthen nurse-patient relationship which is fundamental to health care service provision. This means that investing in nursing informatics is crucial for health case service provision, future of nursing and eventually future of health care. References: Kann, M. G. (2009). “Advances in translational bioinformatics: computational approaches for the hunting of disease genes”. Briefings in Bioinformatics 11 (1): 96 Patton GA, Gardner RM (1999). “Medical informatics education: the University of Utah experience”. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 6 (6): 457–65. Robson, B.; Baek, O. K. (2009). The engines of Hippocrates: From the Dawn of Medicine to Medical and Pharmaceutical Informatics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons