The healthcare information revolution is upon us. Clinicians have more access than ever to electronic health records, diagnostics, and treatment plans. Clinical communication and collaboration platforms are making it easier to manage healthcare workflows, improve coordination, and enhance patient outcomes. Systems integration and data access mean that information and analysis are more vital than ever.
The secret to using this data to provide better care comes down to nursing informatics — integrating nursing science with other areas to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom to provide better care.
As the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society says, “The informatics nurse is part of the delivery of care, the building of knowledge, skills, and experience in the use of information technology. They often lead clinical informatics committee meetings that have a major influence for nurses in assisting them to coordinate all the multifaceted technology activities in regards to patient care, documentation, and safety.”
Let’s dig into exactly how nursing informatics achieves that.
Aligning Nursing Best Practice with Clinical Workflows and Care
Nursing informatics is focussed on the best ways to achieve good patient outcomes — it is about applying the overall process and best practice to maximize patient care wherever possible. As a result, nurse informaticists are often involved in process design, clinical workflow reviews, and new diagnostics and treatment plans. They take into account the various options for providing care and use objective facts and analysis to determine the actions that will lead to the most patient-centered, value-based care.
Improving Clinical Policies, Protocols, Processes, and Procedures
Data is the lifeblood of nursing informatics. That data and information can be used to measure the success of the various protocols, processes, and procedures used in a healthcare organization. A nurse informaticist will measure and analyze how specific parts of the organization are performing, with a focus on the resulting patient outcomes.
They can then make changes to specific parts of the process to streamline activities, avoid bottlenecks, and improve care. Informaticists will see what the results are and continue making changes to enhance every part of the clinical care process.
Providing Training and Learning Based on Objective Data
One of the most valuable ways a nursing informaticist can enhance patient outcomes is through providing training to clinical staff. They can use data to identify endemic issues in a healthcare organization and consult on the best way to resolve these problems. These learnings can be integrated with onboarding new staff, ongoing in-house training, or external education and certification. Nursing informaticists can help to create highly-targeted educational programs to deal with specific gaps between ability and provider expectations.
Selecting and Testing New Medical Devices
Connected IoT medical devices can provide vast amounts of health data on patients. Nursing informaticists are ideally positioned to understand the true value of that data and provide recommendations on how it can be recorded, accessed, and used. Involving informaticists in the selection of medical devices will ensure you have additional criteria for understanding how device data can inform diagnostics, treatment plans, and ultimately patient outcomes.
Reducing Medical Errors and Costs
Nursing informaticists can reduce the chance of medical errors in a healthcare organization, together with associated costs. A combination of staff training, process improvement, and best practice will enhance the quality of care and limit patient risks. There are four main areas that drive medical errors:
Informaticists can look at how your organization communicates and collaborates around patient information. They can audit individual cases, identify gaps, and provide recommendations for avoiding errors in the future. In 2015, an analysis discovered medical errors cost healthcare providers $1.7 billion, over a five year period.
Enhancing End-to-End Treatment and Continuity of Care
A patient’s care may involve several areas, many teams, and dozens of individuals. Nursing informaticists can create protocols and processes to ensure proper communications and interactions between departments, teams, individuals, and patients. They can help healthcare employees to seek out “one view of the truth” through electronic health records, so everyone has the context and insight they need to ensure excellent continuity of care.
As you can see, nursing informatics is vital to improving patient outcomes and driving efficiency and best practice throughout your healthcare organization.