When we look at the healthcare industry over the past 15-20 years, it is clear that drastic improvements have been made because of technology. For example, neurologists can now assess patients experiencing symptoms of a stroke remotely, using a specialized computer system. Wearable devices can track a patient’s vital signs and heart rhythm, alerting both the patient and their care team should any warning signs appear.
Furthermore, technology deployed throughout hospitals and healthcare systems has steadily improved the efficiency of caregivers and allowed patients to return home following an illness, injury, or surgery quicker than ever. Technology has also improved many ways healthcare providers work. These include a broad spectrum of activities, such as the ability to access a schedule, make changes from a mobile device, ensure appropriate supplies are where they need to be and determine when they are needed in order to provide the best possible patient care.
However, from a nurses’ perspective, there has been both a variety of successes and failures using technology in healthcare. Traditionally, everything from documenting patient care, to creating staff schedules, to ordering supplies was done on paper. On the other hand, some hospitals take a much more digitized approach, where every task performed seems to require the assistance of a computer and everything feels much faster paced.
At first glance, the hospitals that adopt all kinds of technology seem to make many improvements in patient care. Overall, it seems that patients have their needs tended to much quicker as a result of the technology solutions. For example, rather than someone tracking down a patient’s nurse when the patient needed assistance, the nurses could easily be reached by a phone that was always clipped to their waistband. The electronic medical record would automatically alert the caregivers if a medication was due, or if the patient had abnormal lab results or vital signs. The daunting task of filling out supply checklists so any supplies that were recently re-ordered had disappeared were no longer a time waster and the changes were amazing.
At the HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, HIMSS released the results of the 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey – a survey of nearly 600 participants including C-suite executives, clinical analysts and informatics nurses. The survey examined the growing technology-driven healthcare ecosystem and the role nursing informatics – a specialty that integrates knowledge, data and wisdom – is playing in this evolving environment. The results indicated that the role of informatics nurses has expanded greatly and is having immense impact on patient safety and overall care, as well as notable workflow and productivity improvements.
This year’s survey, supported by the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community, found that 60 percent of respondents believe that informatics nurses have a high degree of impact on the quality of care provided to patients. The survey also showcased that the majority of respondents claim that their organization had hired an informatics professional in a leadership capacity. Moreover, 20 percent of respondents reported employing a Chief Nursing Information Officer (CNIO) at the leadership helm.
“The 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey showcases the positive influence informatics nurses are having on improved quality and efficiency of patient care,” said Joyce Sensmeier, vice president of informatics for HIMSS. “We are going to continue to see the role and use of technology expand in healthcare and the demand for nurses with informatics training will grow in parallel. As clinicians further focus on transforming information into knowledge, technology will be a fundamental enabler of future care delivery models and nursing informatics leaders will be essential to this transformation.”
As healthcare provider organizations look to build upon their electronic health record (EHR) solution in order to leverage data analytics and population health management tools to transition to a true learning health system, nurses will continue to play an important role in the process. Key findings from the survey reinforce that participants believe that informatics nurses bring value to the implementation phase (85 percent) and optimization phase (83 percent) of clinical systems processes. These numbers are a clear indicator that the informatics specialty is a critical part of evolving healthcare organizations.