Free «Achieving Nursing Informatics Technologies» Essay Sample
Table of Contents
Nursing is an information intensive profession since information is critical in its practice and decision-making processes. Almost every aspect of family health nursing practice at the community level requires various types of information. These aspects are connected with assessing patients’ needs, formulating care plans, communicating patient related information to other staff and analyzing budget and staff reports among many others (Hebert, 2007). Since technology is changing nowadays, nursing information is also changing, especially related to the use of technological equipment in collecting and applying information. According to Hebert (2007), leaders and educators of Nursing recognized the need for nurses to study nursing informatics (NI). This essay will discuss the ways for family health nurses and consumers of healthcare services to achieve nursing informatics competences, importance of NI, and barriers to its achievement from the perspective a community health nurse.
NI involves the use of communication and information technologies in data collection, generation of knowledge, and use of information in supporting nursing practice. Healthcare has been experiencing changes in information technology for a long time. Health informatics began with the invention of the computer in the early 70s (Cassano, 2014). However, it did not attract attention of the healthcare system until computers were available in the end of the decade. Actual clinical care for patients formed in the wake of the 21st century. Some of the departments which pioneered computerization in their work are radiology, laboratory, and pharmacy (Cassano, 2014). Consequently, the demand to use health informatics knowledge in delivering quality care to patients spread to all departments in the healthcare sector. Today, all family health nurses should use information technology in their practice.
Importance of Nursing Informatics
Nurses disseminate, use, and keep relevant information during the care process. Health informatics is crucial in helping nurses fulfill these functions because information technology improves the way information is handled and utilized. NI will help family health nurses to access healthcare information at a faster rate (Huston, 2013). Cassano (2014) explains that before the digital era, nurses used papers for documenting information about patients. Paper documentation could result in the loss of information required for use from time to time. With the advent of NI, electronic documentation captured full attention. Electronic documentation aids in documenting information, improves its flow and accuracy, which in turn enhances the quality of patient care (Cassano, 2014). Computers contribute to the faster flow of information among relevant healthcare providers.
Similarly, access to health information by patients will increase as a result of NI. Patients acquire health related information from the Internet (Huston, 2013), which will compel nurses to broaden their knowledge and increase their skills in NI. Its impact on healthcare system may be rather significant. For instance, patients may stop traveling in search of professionals to consult if they can access the same information using telehealth technologies. Moreover, population awareness may increase, especially in terms of disease prevention.
Furthermore, application of technology helps in the early stages of identification of potential health problems (Lee, 2014). This occurrence is necessary for prevention of possible health concerns before they evolve in actual challenges. For instance, electronic documentation may reveal changes in patient status early enough to take appropriate measures. A good example is when vital signs start deviating, nurses can see fluctuations and identify a problem that requires attention. This knowledge is also useful for evaluating the nursing care plans, determining effective measures, and promoting or changing the strategies of tackling health problems.
How to Achieve Nursing Informatics
The only way for family health nurses to achieve NI competencies is through education. Bickford (2009) reiterates that education, as well as professional development, is critical in the NI functions regardless whether the impact is positive or negative. At the same time, patients can also receive the training to ensure that they have recent and important information about technological advancements as well. Nursing students can acquire health informatics knowledge while continuing their education too. Teaching both family health nursing staff and students in addition to healthcare consumers is the only effective way of ensuring the optimal use of informatics in nursing practice (Bickford, 2009). It may be essential in achieving NI competencies because the nurses in the field, as well as the future ones, will have received practical knowledge. In addition, patients will have acquired the knowledge, and healthcare professionals will have to use their skills while caring for informed patients.
Many countries rely on few nurses and the other health care professionals in dealing with information technology. As a result, some countries began to incorporate health informatics as a unit for beginning family health nurses (Cummings, Borycki, & Madsen, 2015). These nurses have fundamental computer technology skills and utilize the existing information systems in their practice. The teaching involves learning of essential components of the course: computer skills in the Internet, office documentation, and computer languages (Cummings et al., 2015). Nursing informatics entails data transformation into knowledge, medical records, and electronic health. All these are vital in understanding how to ensure that patient information is handled in the ethical and secure way.
Additionally, training in NI is not a single event. It should be undergone on a regular basis since technology is constantly changing. Bickford (2009) insists that educators and trainers of NI should repeatedly evaluate both competencies and skills and at the same time provide feedback on effectiveness of the acquired skills. Also, those who have already learned the skills can keep broadening their knowledge and expertise through practice, seminars, and continuous education in the field of health informatics. Learning can occur at various levels. For instance, NI specialists can travel and train nurses from different hospitals and institutions on how to incorporate information technology in healthcare delivery. Afterwards, family health nurses can keep practicing the skills using computers and other technological resources to address patient needs. For instance, nurses can store patient information on computers and retrieve it on demand.
Challenges in Achieving Nursing Informatics
Despite devoting considerable effort to achieve NI in practice, there are still some barriers to consider. One of the obstacles affecting not only the use of NI knowledge but also its learning process is limited Internet access and a small number of computers. In the US, about 65 million people live in the rural areas, which lack adequate access to specialists and physicians who can address health care needs (Hein, 2009). Furthermore, Hein (2009) explains that absence of Internet access in these rural and poor urban areas hinders the use of telemedicine. In turn, it means that there are no specialists trained in NI in most parts of these regions, and it may take a long time before healthcare professionals and their patients there will be able to acquire precious knowledge. Moreover, low-income areas may not only lack Internet access but also computers that are essential for NI.
One of the existing challenges hindering the achievement of NI concerns human resources. Lack of time and knowledge, as well as inadequate faculty preparation, obstruct promotion of teaching and learning NI (Hebert, 2007; Jones, Schilling, & Pesut, 2011). At the same time, educators and nurses show lack of appreciation of this discipline in addition to lack of experience. Moreover, technical resources may also pose a threat. Limited access to the most appropriate computer hardware and software impacts Nursing Informatics rather negatively (Hebert, 2007). Considering these limitations in the world of technological changes, it is difficult to keep abreast of the continuously changing NI skills and educational materials. Moreover, Hebert (2007) states that problems with system resources, such as poor or lacking support from the relevant administration, impact NI negatively as well. Nonetheless, nurses and the NI trainers suffer acute shortage in their areas of practice that denies them time to indulge in programs which enhance learning and teaching the noble discipline (Hebert, 2007). Therefore, overcoming these barriers can promote achievement of NI and improve the quality of healthcare services delivery.
Since the introduction of computers to the healthcare system, information technology has been constantly changing. Community and family health nurses should take appropriate action to develop their NI knowledge and skills in order to enhance the quality of healthcare delivery. The only way to achieve NI technologies is through learning, which can be done at the schools that offer the discipline. Also, all nursing schools should provide the unit for all nursing trainees in order for them to become adequately equipped with the necessary NI skills before entering the job market. Learning should be done on a regular basis; thus, qualified nurses should keep learning throughout their careers considering frequent technological changes. However, there are challenges that the NI technologies face. Some of them include limited number of computers and inadequate Internet access as well as lack of both human and physical resources. In some cases, family health nurses do not have enough time to participate in the NI programs due to work overload resulting from acute staff shortages at their places of work. Finally, NI helps to enhance electronic information managing, which ensures the fast flow of information, increased accessibility to health information, and early identification of health challenges. All these are vital for the high quality of healthcare services.