This week we will explore the impact of the nursing core competency of informatics and technology on healthcare and the nursing profession.
Nurses as Knowledge Workers Applying Technology to Patient Care
Agnes (as cited in Hood, 2018) stated that informatics is the science of information. Others have expanded on this definition to include broader statements. Chamberlain College of Nursing (2018) presented a progression from data to information, knowledge, understanding, and finally wisdom. Blais and Hayes (2011) reported that “nursing informatics is the combination of computer and information science with nursing science” (p. 301). Nursing informatics is designed to “improve the health of populations, communities, families and individuals by optimizing information management and communication” (Massachusetts Action Coalition Future of Nursing, 2016, p. 12).
Knowledge and skills have long been important in professional nursing practice. American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008) stated that graduates of BSN programs must be competent in technical skills including computer use and the technologies used in patient care. Although psychomotor skills (e.g., inserting a Foley catheter or changing a central line dressing) are part of what nurses do, we are now valued mostly for our knowledge and our ability to make critical decisions based on available evidence and the management of information. Technology can help us do our jobs better, safer, and faster in many cases. No matter how sophisticated a computer system, the nurse is still needed to add caring to patient care.
Computer literacy and information literacy are important skills for today’s nurses. We must work to keep up to date on the latest computer applications for patient care as well as the latest evidence to guide professional nursing care. Nurses must be able to operate the technology and also interpret its meaning in the context of professional nursing and patient care.
Nurses today use many types of clinical information systems, including
- electronic health record;
- bar-coded medication administration systems; and
- computerized provider order entry systems.
Think of an example where a leader empowered you to make a decision. Consider how you felt. Now, compare this to a time when the leader simply told you what to do.
- Did you feel differently? Which did you prefer?
Informatics nurse specialists have evolved as a specialty nursing area as informatics and technology have become pervasive in our practice. These nurses help to select appropriate systems, implement them into practice, and teach nurses how to use them (Hood, 2018). The informatics nurse specialist (also called a nurse informaticist) is an integral part of the healthcare team. If you are interested in exploring this specialty further, more information can be found in your textbook (Hood, 2018) and in a course you will take later called NR361 Information Systems in Healthcare.
Think About This
What do you predict is the next great challenge in informatics and technology for professional nursing? Why?
Informatics directly impacts consumers and patients as well as nurses and healthcare professionals. The nurse may help patients select, access, and read quality healthcare information from the Internet or from items owned at a healthcare facility. Telehealth and telemonitoring are also areas where informatics and technology impact both the patient and the nurse (Hood, 2018).
Ethics in Informatics and Technology
With the use of technology in professional nursing practice comes great responsibility. The same ethical principles that apply to verbal and written information also apply to information stored in technology. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applies to all communications including electronic.
Many nurses know about other nurses or healthcare workers who have inappropriately accessed the electronic records of friends, family, or celebrities at their facilities. Although it is unethical to read the paper chart of persons not directly in your care, there is rarely a record of who has done so. In the world of technology, there is a clear trail of all persons who have logged in and viewed each record. Consequences for these unethical actions may include termination.
To help prevent unauthorized viewing of patient records or other electronic data, passwords are issued to each employee who needs to access each particular system. This helps to provide data security.
- How can you help to promote data security at your workplace?
Social media has gained a strong foothold in our culture. Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, and others allow us to post photos and comments easily and quickly. As professional nurses, we are aware of the ethical issue of confidentiality; some are tempted to violate the privacy rules. The results of these violations can result in lost trust from patients and colleagues, as well as termination of employment. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (2011) has developed guidelines for nurses’ safe use of social media.
“Baccalaureate graduates ethically manage data, information, knowledge, and technology to communicate effectively; provide safe and effective patient care; and use research and clinical evidence to inform practice decisions” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2008, p. 18).
During Week 7, we have worked together to explore the competency of informatics and technology. As these are integrated into our practice, we continue to place safety and caring at the forefront.
Test Your Knowledge on Informatics and Technology in the nursing profession
Now let’s take a few minutes to check our learning from this week.
Informatics and Technology in the nursing profession