Today’s healthcare systems are dynamic: technology has played a significant role in both education and practice. The nursing field is among the many areas that have integrated technology into education and practice to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of current trends. Therefore, nurses at the baccalaureate level are equipped with nursing informatics knowledge and skills, which are essential in the management of information at various levels of duty execution. Health information skills are demonstrated both at the patient care and organizational level. The information obtained at the different levels is used in impacting decision-making at local, national, and even international regulatory standards. The primary aim of nursing informatics is to improve healthcare outcomes by ensuring patient safety, decision support systems, and resource management. The objective of this paper is to discuss the role of nurse informatics in an organization.
Nursing Informatics and the Nurse Informaticist
Since 1984, nursing informatics is considered an essential specialization in nursing resources. According to Nelson & Staggers (2016), nursing informatics involves the application of integration of Information Technology into nursing activities including education, management, and practice. According to the standards and aims provided by the American Nurses Association (ANA), nursing informatics was suggested to be a crucial specialty that ought to integrate computer science, information science as well as nursing science in ensuring management of communication data, nursing knowledge, and practice without forgetting nursing education and research.
Role of the Nurse Informaticist
Nurse informaticist plays a crucial role at various levels of care. As an informaticist, the nurse is responsible for handling patient and organizational information/data to support better decision-making regarding healthcare (Birz, 2016). Therefore, the implementation of essential technological systems is the typical responsibility of nurse informatics. Through assessing the situation on the ground at the organizational level, nurse informatics can make informed decisions on the most appropriate system needed at the time.
For proper functioning and maintained integrity, the computer systems have to undergo constant testing. Once the computer systems are installed, the nurse informaticist can customize the systems to fit the operations in the organizations (Nagle, 2015). Through determining the desires of the users and other programmers, the nurse can restructure the systems to support decision-making in terms of how data will be displayed and accessed in the systems. This is to ensure the systems are ready for use all time required inpatient care.
To the rest of the staff, the nurse informaticist is responsible for providing technical assistance, education, and a source of motivation to incorporate new technological systems into their daily practices (Nagle, 2015). Through preparing the other staff, resistance and problems associated with the use of modern systems reduce hence improving workflow and efficiency in healthcare.
Nurse Informaticist and Other Health Care Organizations
Various organizations which have incorporated technology in patient care, testify to the importance of having a nurse informaticist as one of the staff team. Evidence provided by those organizations indicates that nurse informaticist takes a variety of roles in the organization. They uptake various positions and roles in the organization that would require individuals from multiple different fields. Hence, playing various roles helps the organization to cut on extra expenses that would be used to hire a staff of multiple specialists for consultation, implementation, and even maintenance of the information systems.
With the nursing background, nurse informaticist understands the need for various technological support inpatient care. Therefore, using skills and knowledge of information technology, the nurse can identify the most appropriate system that should be introduced into the organization to support patient care.
Through the systems, nurse informatics has been proved to steer research activities using the data collected. This helps the management identify areas of weaknesses within the organization that needs restructuring. The data collected in the systems also help organization management make sound decisions. In these organizations, the nurse informaticist assists other staff members in access to research materials essential to improve the services provided. Hence, care providers can give evidence-based care improving patient safety, outcomes, and satisfaction, and therefore, customer relations. Improved service provision facilitates customer relations, hence increasing income generation.
Through nurse informatics, staff relations are improved. This is because the introduced systems usually link individuals of different professional fields and departments involved in patient care within the organization. All these professionals are required to work as a team in ensuring comprehensive, holistic patient care (Nelson & Staggers, 2016). Apart from the system as one way of interconnecting the staff members, the nurse informaticist ensures the professionals are effectively coordinated with patients, providing the systems are efficiently used.
Impact of Full Nurse Engagement in Health Care Technology
Safer and quality healthcare is the ultimate goal for all professionals in the field. Patient safety involves ensuring privacy and confidentiality of their data/ information. Engaging nurses in healthcare technology has greatly impacted the concept of safe and quality patient care. As patient advocates, the nurses use technology to provide better patient treatment. All the professionals occupied inpatient care are engaged through the systems. Delays in information transfer are no longer an excuse, hence, the nurses ensure patients are attended by all professionals in time followed by proper documentation (Nelson & Staggers, 2016). Through the patient portal, the nurses also check that patients are informed about their care plan and assigned to follow-up care if necessary. Hence, through technology, nurses are essential elements of change in providing affordability and accessibility of quality care while maximizing patient safety and minimizing medical errors.
In ensuring privacy, confidentiality, and security of patients, nurses use the systems providing patient data is accessed by only authorized individuals (Cherry & Jacob, 2016). Therefore, authorized individuals have a password that enables them to access the system. Accountability is ensured; the technological systems have replaced the physical delivery of patient data from one department to another. This has eliminated delays in serving patients due to late deliveries. Loss of data through damage of documents has also been minimized. This has improved accessibility of essential past patient data such as allergies without having to recollect the information. Hence, workflow is facilitated as the patient data is updated in the systems.
The use of information technology improves the efficiency and effectiveness of care. The use of evidence-based care ensures only necessary procedures are carried out. This allows minimum resources to be used to achieve the best patient care. Improved patient care, safety, and relations attract more customers. Generally, costs are minimized as returns are improved, hence making the investment worthwhile.
Opportunities and Challenges
Nurse informaticists have more roles to play not only in the clinical area but the organization at large. They play a part of a nurse, technological experts, researchers, and managers (Cherry & Jacob, 2016). At the large scope of practice, nurse informaticists have increased opportunities. As part of the interdisciplinary team, the nurse informaticist spearheads most of the decision-making processes involved in inpatient care. With much practice, the nurse informaticist has increased opportunities to influence the healthcare sector positively. However, it calls for cooperation from the rest of the staff members as well as the managerial team for them to achieve the desired qualities. Therefore, the major challenge the nurse informaticist face is when there is resistance to adopt change by other team members. Opposition to take a new system and chance is associated with ignorance, attachment to routine practices, and insufficient resources.
It is only through interdisciplinary team collaboration that quality of care can be improved through technology. According to Birz (2016), across various care settings, the delivery of care has become more complex. The need for coordinated care amongst multiple care providers is becoming more critical. Therefore, the development of well-functioning teams and collaboration is one of the essential objectives in the healthcare system. Through combined efforts, the interdisciplinary team can make joint decisions and work towards achieving goals.
Summary of Recommendations
Nurse informatics are involved in many aspects of patient care and organizational management such as data recovery, ethics, decision support systems, human-computer interactions, information systems, security, documentation, and staff development. It is through nurse informatics that computer information can be effectively incorporated into patient care, decision making, resource management, and general management in the organization. The ability to play various roles that might in other cases require multiple personnel from different professional backgrounds makes nurse informaticists very instrumental in organizations in the healthcare sector.
Cherry, B., & Jacob, S. R. (2016). Contemporary nursing: Issues, trends, & management (8th ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Birz, S. (2016). Nursing informatics: Improving Patient Safety with Technology [blogpost]. Web.
Nagle, L. M. (2015). The role of the informatics nurse. In K. J. Hannah, P. Hussey, M. A. Kennedy, & M. J. Ball (Eds.), Introduction to nursing informatics. London, UK: Springer.
Nelson, R., & Staggers, N. (2016). Health informatics – e-book: An interprofessional approach (2nd ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.