Informatics (informatics comes from the French word informatique which means computer science). Informatics is defined as computer science + information science. Used in conjunction with the name of a discipline, it denotes an application of computer science and information science to the management and processing of data, information, and knowledge in the named discipline. Thus we have, medical informatics, nursing informatics, pharmacy informatics and so on.
Hebda (1998 p. 3), defines nursing informatics as "the use of computers technology to support nursing, including clinical practice, administration, education, and research."
American Nurses Association (ANA) (1994) has defined nursing informatics as "the development and evaluation of applications, tools, processes, and structures which assist nurses with the management of data in taking care of patients or supporting the practice of nursing."
Graves, J. R., & Corcoran, S. (1989). The Study of Nursing Informatics. Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 27, 227-231. define nursing informatics as "a combination of computer science, information science and nursing science designed to assist in the management and processing of nursing data, information and knowledge to support the practice of nursing and the delivery of nursing care."
The framework for nursing informatics relies on the central concepts of data, information and knowledge:
- data is defined as discrete entities that are described objectively without interpretation
- information as data that is interpreted, organized or structured
- knowledge as information that has been synthesized so that interrelationships are identified and formalized.
- Resulting in decisions that guide practice
The management and processing components may be considered the functional components of informatics.
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why electronic health record?
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application of nursing informatics
Nursing Informatics can be applied to all areas of nursing practice, which include; clinical practice, administration, education, and research. Below are some examples of how nursing informatics, information technology and computers, are used to support various areas of nursing practice.
Nursing Clinical Practice (Point-of-Care Systems and Clinical Information Systems)
- Work lists to remind staff of planned nursing interventions
- Computer generated client documentation
- Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Computer-Based Patient Record (CPR)
- Monitoring devices that record vital signs and other measurements directly into the client record (electronic medical record)
- Computer - generated nursing care plans and critical pathways
- Automatic billing for supplies or procedures with nursing documentation
- Reminders and prompts that appear during documentation to ensure comprehensive charting
Nursing Administration (Health Care Information Systems)
- Automated staff scheduling
- E-mail for improved communication
- Cost analysis and finding trends for budget purposes
- Quality assurance and outcomes analysis
- Computerized record-keeping
- Computerized-assisted instruction
- Interactive video technology
- Distance Learning-Web based courses and degree programs
- Internet resources-CEU's and formal nursing courses and degree programs
- Presentation software for preparing slides and handouts-PowerPoint and MS Word
- Computerized literature searching-CINAHL, Medline and Web sources
- The adoption of standardized language related to nursing terms-NANDA, etc.
- The ability to find trends in aggregate data, that is data derived from large population groups-Statistical Software, SPSS
benefits of computer automation in healthcare
Many of these benefits have came about with the development of the electronic medical record, which is the electronic version of the client data found in the traditional paper record.
EMR benefits include:
· Improved access to the medical record. The EMR can be accessed from several different locations simultaneously, as well as by different levels of providers.
· Decreased redundancy of data entry. For example, allergies and vital signs need only be entered once.
· Decreased time spent in documentation. Automation allows direct entry from monitoring equipment, as well as point-of-care data entry.
· Increased time for client care. More time is available for client care because less time is required for documentation and transcription of physician orders.
· Facilitation of data collection for research. Electronically stored client records provide quick access to clinical data for a large number of clients.
· Improved communication and decreased potential for error. Improved legibility of clinician documentation and orders is seen with computerized information systems.
· Creation of a lifetime clinical record facilitated by information systems.
Other benefits of automation and computerization are related to the use of decision-support software, computer software programs that organize information to aid in decision making for client care or administrative issues; these include:
· Decision-support tools as well as alerts and reminders notify the clinician of possible concerns or omissions. An example of this, is the documentation of patient allergies in the computer system. The health care providers would be alerted to any discrepancies in the patient medication orders.
· Effective data management and trend-finding include the ability to provide historical or current data reports.
· Extensive financial information can be collected and analyzed for trends. An extremely important benefit in this era of managed care and cost cutting.
· Data related to treatment such as inpatient length of stay and the lowest level of care provider required can be used to decrease costs.
the role of nursing informatics specialist (nis)
Because of the increased importance of computers and information technology in the practice of professional nursing; a new role has emerged, the nursing informatics specialist (NIS). The NIS is a nurse who has formal education, certification and practical experience in using computers in patient care settings. The American Nurses Association (ANA, 1994), lists several functions of the NIS:
♥ Theory development. The NIS contributes to the scientific knowledge base of nursing informatics.
♥ Analysis of information needs. The identification of information that nurses' need to in order to accomplish their work; client care, education, administration, and research
♥ Selection of computer systems. The NIS, guides the user in making informed decisions related to the purchase of computer systems.
♥ Design of computer systems and customizations. The NIS collaborates with users and computer programmers to make decisions about how data will be displayed and accessed.
♥ Testing of computer systems. Systems must be checked for proper functioning before they are made available for use in patient care.
♥ Training users of computer systems. Users need to be trained in how the system works, the importance of accurate data entry, and how the system will benefit them, and more importantly how it will improve patient outcomes
♥ Evaluation of the effectiveness of computer systems. The unique role of the NIS makes them the ideal person to evaluate the effectiveness of computer systems.
♥ Ongoing maintenance and enhancements. The NIS makes sure the computerized system functions properly and explores possible enhancements to the system that will better serve the users and the patients.
♥ Identification of computer technologies that can benefit nursing. The NIS must keep abreast of the changes in the fields of computers and information technology, including new hardware and software that will benefit the nurse and patient.
hardware and software
Hardware is the physical part of the computer and its associated equipment. Computer hardware can comprise many different parts, these include:
A. Input Devices: used to enter data; keyboard, mouse, trackball, touch screen, light pen, microphone, bar code reader, fax modem card, joystick, and scanner.
B. Output Devices: used to view and hear processed data; video monitor screens, printers, speakers, and fax.
C. Central Processing Unit (CPU) "brain" of the computer, three components:
1. Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU): number "crunching"
2. Memory: is the storage area in which program instruction (code) reside during execution.
a. Read-only memory (ROM) is permanent; it remains when the power is off. Start-up instructions for the computer is an example of ROM.
b. Random access memory (RAM) is a temporary storage area for program instructions and data that is being processed, it is only active while the computer is turned on. (located on the motherboard not part of CPU)
3.Control Unit: manages instructions to other parts of the computer, including input and output devices "traffic cop"
D. Secondary Storage: provides space to retain data in an area separate from the computer's memory after the computer is turned off, these include; hard disk drives, floppy disks, tape, zip drives, optical drives and CD-ROM drives.
- Super computers, are the largest and most expensive, can perform billions of instructions every second
- Mainframes, large computers capable of processing several millions instructions per second. They support organizational functions, therefore have been the traditional equipment in hospitals. Customized software results in high cost.
- Minicomputer, is a scaled-down version of the mainframe, since they are now becoming more powerful they can now be found in hospitals and HMO's
- Microcomputers (PCs), inexpensive processing power for an individual user.
- Laptop or Notebook, Handheld, and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
A network is "a combination of hardware and software that allows communication and electronic transfer of information between computers" (as cited in Hebda, 1998, p. 19).
Hardware may be connected permanently by wire (Ethernet), or temporarily by wireless communication, and modems/telephone lines. This allows the sharing of computer and software resources, through the use of the network. For example, several computers may share one computer, or a word processing program could also be accessed by many different users.
Networks, no matter how small or large, operate with the client/server technology.
A Server stores files and programs that are accessed by the client on the network. When you access the Internet from home, you the client (your computer), requests files from a Server (another computer), you see the results displayed on your screen through a browser. You may also access a network in your clinical practice; you the client, accesses a patient record on the floor from a server, which stores the patient record.
Types of Networks: They range from small (home network) to very large (Internet)
► Home Networks - within a home
► Local Area Networks (LAN) - networks within a area, location or business. The University connects all its computers on a LAN.
► Wide Area Networks (WAN) - several LAN connected together
► Internet - many WAN connected together around the globe to give us the Internet that we use today
a. Intranets - private company networks that are protected from outside access Kaiser HMO and its
clinic s and hospital is an example.
b. Extranets - several Intranets connected together, Kaiser maintains Extranet a network connection with its suppliers
Selection Criteria for Computer Equipment:
When selecting a computer system or related hardware, you must take into consideration the following:
► The types of applications required Some people need word processing, while others may need database or spread sheet software.
► The program execution time and computer capacity needed to process jobs Complex jobs require more processor speed and memory.
► Storage Capacity Needs are determined by the amount of information that must be kept and the length of time that it must be retained.
► Backup Options When information is critical to conduct daily business, another backup system may be need if the primary one fails.
Operating Systems: A collection of programs that manage all of the computer's activities, including the control of hardware, execution of software, and management of information.
roles of support personnel
Support for computer systems and networks is extremely important in order to maintain system functionality, support includes: 1) planning system upgrades, 2) installation of upgrades for operating systems and various applications, 3) troubleshooting, and 4) user education and training.
► Superuser: This person has additional experience over the average employee and serves as a local resource person. In the hospital setting this is user who know the clinical area and the computer system.
► Microcomputer Specialist: Provides PC information and training; has special training and degree in computer science or a related area.
► Analyst: They are frequently clinicians, who become involved in system selection and training. Many have learned their role on the job and furthered their education by taking computer or information science classes.
► Programmer: Writes code, computer instructions; they often lack the clinical experience. For this reason the analysts are responsible for communicating user needs to programmers
► Network Administrator: They are responsible for the planning, management and expansion of networks.
Director, Information Services: These individuals should have a board view of the needs of the institution and the design, implementation, and evaluation of information systems. Responsibilities include planning, policy development, budgeting, information security, and overall management of the information systems.