February 23, 2022

Why Every Nurse is an Informatics Nurse

Technology is a valued member of the care team

Nursing informatics

By Nelita Iuppa, DNP, MS, BSN, NEA-BC, RN-BC, FHIMSS, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Informatics

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The days of nurses simply accessing a computer program to get work done are long gone.

In 2017, HealthIT.gov reported that 96% of all hospitals in the U.S. had adopted certified electronic health record (EHR) systems. Since then, technological advancements have continued to present nurses with opportunities to do their jobs with greater effectiveness. Technology has become a vital tool in establishing critical workplace efficiencies and, as a result, the nurse-technology relationship has become a partnership.

Today’s nurses are assimilating technology into their practice as valued, supportive members of the care team. And that means all nurses — no matter their role, experience level or specialty — must possess the core skills needed to do so.

The following highlights essential skills for nurses to build collaborative, productive partnerships with technology to support their nursing practice.

Clinical nurses and clinically specialized nurses

Nurses who work in hospital settings, outpatient clinics, surgical services, ostomy and wound care, obstetrics, oncology and critical care or emergency environments should aim to do the following:

Enhance communication. Understand why and when to use various communication modes (i.e. phone call, secure message, photo, video chat) to get to the right person at the right time for the right purpose.

Ensure quality of data. Increase awareness of how recorded data is used by others. This includes monitoring systems, patients and families, care team members and other colleagues and departments.

Garner system expertise. Master clinical system features and functions as designed by the vendor. Avoid workarounds, and know what systems are interconnected, what information is shared, how to troubleshoot system-to-system connections and what to do in offline situations.

Ensure smooth transitions of care. Know how information flows from one level of care to another and your role in the accuracy, completeness and ease of this exchange.

Innovate. Participate in idea development sessions, shared governance and change-focused committees to enhance current work with technology, information or data.

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Nurse leaders and support specialty nurse

For nurses in positions of leadership, including local nursing department leaders, advanced practice nurses, nurse executives and those who lead nursing support specialties such as quality, research, informatics, care management, compliance and operations, these are key:

Champion technology. Embrace new technology solutions and sponsor technology initiatives to elevate the voice of nursing in design, application and strategic IT priorities.

Adopt an analytical mindset. Assist in defining and designing visual displays of relevant operational data for nursing operations. This information helps better tell the story of care and outcomes.

Focus on branding and networking. Share best practices, research and technology successes to help others overcome similar technology installations, elevate your organization’s innovation brand recognition and advance nursing globally.

Ensure business continuity. Champion nursing competence and practical scenarios for technical downtime and emergency planning or recovery scenarios to ensure continuity of nursing care and operations.

Emerging market nurses

Nurses practicing in emerging markets, including home care, long-term care, remote monitoring, virtual visit and telehealth nursing, agency or travel nursing, behavioral health and retail nursing should possess the following:

Understand screen impact. Know the opportunities and limits of extended virtualized experiences for nursing staff and patients.

Use tech support. Become competent in offering and administering technical support care alongside nursing care for remote patient encounters.

Monitor cybersecurity. Be aware of current threats to healthcare data and systems and have strategies in place to mitigate these risks.

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Manage information. Help design and incorporate predictive modeling logic into clinical systems. Also, provide expertise in notification management techniques to avoid alert overload.

Embrace emerging technology. Be an ambassador for new digital solutions, automation and computing logic that advances nursing care.

Academic and faculty nurses, student nurses and nurse IT vendors

Those who work in schools of nursing, for technology/medical device companies, or serve as clinical nurse educators, clinical nurse specialists or specialty nurse educators should aim to do the following.

Support technology use cases. Endorse the balance of conceptual nursing theory with real-world application experiences from everyday nursing practice.

Imagine possibilities. Prepare nurses to shift their thinking from what technology is used for to the possibilities it enables.

Ensure competence. Use practical scenarios when educating to create an association with the nursing process and tp enhance competence.

Promote suitable engagement. Educate nurses on the moral and appropriate use of technology and information exchanges in support of ethical nursing care.

New skills for a new era in nursing

As healthcare automation continues to advance and the digital transformation of nursing practice occurs, all nurses need to cultivate the skills necessary to effectively engage with information. Applying these skills to nurses’ work elevates nursing practice and opens the door to future possibilities.

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