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With the growth of technology in numerous industries, healthcare has also embraced the concept of integrating the use of technology in upgrading medicine to make it safer and easier for patients to access. As a result of the new step, there is now a new department in nursing called as informatics nurse specialists who are registered nurses. A registered nurse is a nurse who is authorized to practice in a variety of jobs inside a healthcare organization, whether government or civilian. According to the scopes and standards of practice, an informatics nurse specialist is a registered nurse who is highly versed and has understanding of informatics (Rojas & Seckman, 2014). Simply put, an informatics nurse specialists is a registered nurse who has the capability of working with information technology in managing available medical data and the healthcare organization system. Fundamental roles of an informatics nurse specialists are to use various combination of nursing expertise and knowledge in computers to administer information systems used by different departments within hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. The definition of informatics nurse specialists is suggested by the direction of their practice, education as well as training and their roles in implementing and managing any technology related to information in the institution (Ainsley & Brown, 2009). The aim of this paper is to offer a critical analysis of the roles of informatics nurse specialists in addition to assessing how their decisions affect the various nursing units by enhancing safety and efficiency of the healthcare organizations and health of patients within the institution.
Current Challenges for Informatics Nurse Specialists
The introduction of computer and telecommunication systems in the healthcare have proven to be an effective step that has by far enhanced efficient management of healthcare data communication amongst different healthcare professionals and organizations. Despite such an advantage, there are still some challenges that face informatics nurse specialists, and one of them is the integration of education and translation amongst nurses since some nurses may have limited computer skills and hence are reluctant in embracing the change of using information technology in nursing. According to Anderson (2011), the idea of incorporation information technology and communication within nursing that still calls for investigation on how nurses need to be trained in processing nursing information and to feel at ease in working with computerized systems. The lack of quality knowledge amongst nurses not only makes them uncomfortable at working with the new systems but also brings in the risk of making errors that might jeopardize the safety of patients (Benner, 2001). Some of the mistakes that might be encountered when patient health data is mishandled are accidentally provided for the public and this goes against this violates privacy codes of HPAA. Such an event will not only threaten the responsible nurse but the whole healthcare institution as well. Education and sufficient knowledge, therefore, is still an issue that challenges informatics nurse specialists within the healthcare organization and that needs to be addressed so that patients' safety and health can be enhanced in the hands of developing nurses within the organization.
Role and Duties of Informatics Nurse Specialists
The functions and duties of an informatics nurse specialists within a healthcare organization are significantly revolved around evaluation and selection of technology systems that can be used by various departments to communicate and improve the safety of the patients. In the circumstance stated above, it is important that the roles and duties of informatics nurse specialists are harmonized with the capacity of the existing nurses and professionals to ensure efficiency within the institutions (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2015). Even before selecting and introducing the information technology systems, it is imperative that the staff have in-depth knowledge of the pending culture. A nursing informatics is an advanced registered nurse, and an advanced registered nurse is supposed to be a servant leader (Nagle, 2014); this means that instead of enforcing the system into the existing culture, he or she should understand the challenges and weakness that the staff possesses. In the long run, this will be able to help in identifying what education needs to be taught and about what information technology systems need to be introduced to what departments. It is crucial that the health professionals know what they are using and how they are using as this will enhance efficiency and safety of the patients. It is suggested to prepare nurses for being able to embrace intelligent and quality based information technology in helping patients. Therefore the role and duty of informatics nurse specialists will entail educating nurses how to solve issues using the machines and legal and ethical matters related to IT within nursing institutions as well as provide support to the nurses whenever needed.
Expected Improvement and Outcomes
Integrating information and technology in nursing holds immense benefits in healthcare organization but mainly by educating nurses on how to integrate technology tools into their practice reduces the chances of mistakes. Most of the errors that often happen within the healthcare environment can be owed to the use of unreliable materials, but once the nurses are trained on how to use gadgets like EHR and EMR, it then eliminates many chances of medical errors. Therefore the major improvement that will be an outcome of the training is enhanced communication. In using information and communication gadgets, nurses will be able to monitor patient’s development and know where help is needed. The second improvement is improved storage of data. Machines like EHR and EMR enables nurses to key in vital information and be able to easily access them from any given point which is more reliable compared to paper documents (Cohen, 2010). Lastly, teaching nurses regarding the use of technology within their practice enhances their knowledge about security features that can be threatened with carelessness. The nurses will have knowledge on how to handle fragile information relating to patients' health and how to not violate codes of HIPAA and e-PHI and these, in the long run, improve the safety of the patients and the security of the healthcare systems. Integrating training is, therefore, important in improving the efficiency of nurses in their daily practices, and by sharing information, the collaboration between professionals will be enhanced and transform the effectiveness of the healthcare as an organization.
Health Information Technology (HIT) Technology Involved
The primary health information technology that will be used in training the nurses how to enhance their practice is Electronic Health Records commonly known as EHRs. Electronic Health Records is a digital record of an institution's health information that can be accessed by different parties in recording and analyzing patients' information. EHR is important in enhancing communication and storing patients' data, and it is one of the most significant tools in healthcare organization relating to informatics nurse specialists (Henry, 2006). EHR carries past information regarding medical and treatment of patients making it available and secure only to authorize users, and in advanced cases, it helps in communicating between organizations and contain information like immunization dates and laboratory tests and results. It is because of this that through training needs to be advocated for by nursing informatics professions so that nurses can avoid mistakes that might jeopardize the safety of the patients and efficiency of the healthcare institutions. EHRs will thus eliminate the use of paperwork that can easily be tampered with by various aspects of the environment. Besides, EHR will also make it easier for nurses to record and access information regarding a patient by eliminating the need for physical files. The main aim of EHR is to make all the information available to anyone at any point and at any time to increase the productivity of clinicians and health professionals. The technology system also improves patients' safety by enhancing the legibility of clinical notes and setting reminders for checking on patients and what needs to be done by the hospital professions.
In the implementation of informatics nurse specialist, it is the chief nursing officer who will lead the practice. The chief nursing offer's primary role will be to ensure that the institution's department is well educated on the role of informatics specialist and how they will influence the new culture of the hospital. Though he or she will not be responsible for analyzing how this process is implemented, the chief nursing officer will give directions to the director of the clinical process transformation who will assume the role of CNO to ensure that the desired practice is implemented. The CNO will only be responsible for leading the meeting and then pass the duties down to the director who will categorize the departments with the urgency of INS implementation. The director of clinical process transformation will then draw a program that will see informatics nurse specialist train nurses and the emergency department on how they can incorporate INS into their departments. The informatics nurse specialist will then in turn work together with the nurses and the emergency departments by teaching them and stepping up in circumstances that need their expertise. The outcome will then be assessed by the director of the clinical process transformation who will give feedback to the chief nursing officer to analyze the progress of the newly introduced culture.
Timeline and Milestones for Completion of the Project
To complete this program, it will require three months majorly because this is a new curriculum that is being introduced and therefore it is important to move a step at a time so that the institution can embrace the new culture. It is important to consider that not every personnel at the hospital will be willing and receptive to the idea as there might be individuals who are slow at accepting the change as well as individuals who will not see the need for this change. Additionally, the first month is significant as not all departments will be affected equally and not every department has the same urgency; hence the administration needs to evaluate the units and sort them with urgency. The second month is critical because the learning needs to move at the pace of the learning nurses and not at the demands of the organization and also create room for questions. The final stage is the action stage where the administration and informatics nurse specialists step back to see how effective the plan has been and assessed the areas that need more attention and correction. At this point, the nurses and emergency team should be conversant with the new system of practice.
Job Description for the Informatics Nurse Specialists
Being one of the most popular careers right now it is important for one to own a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and in addition to this he or she must have three plus years of being familiar with electronic healthcare records. The candidate should have knowledge in medicine business models, basic statistics, managerial communication, clinical system applications and skills and knowledge in project management will be a bonus.
The leading roles of informatics nurse specialist will include overseeing the integration of medical and healthcare data including information and knowledge that can help in decision making to enhance the efficiency and safety of patient care.
The average salary of the candidate ranges between $49,085 and $87,051 (NurseJournal.org, 2016) depending on the qualifications, experience, and ability of the selected candidate.
Today's health system have been impacted by technology as this has been embraced as a way or mitigating risks that come with nursing and promoting quality healthcare. Because of this, informatics are paramount in every hospital setting to oversee aspects of technology being utilized well and support in the integration of data into systems that improves the quality of care. Informatics in the healthcare setting is required to regularly keep up with information and technology systems and support health professionals in ensuring that every data is made available and accessible, including to the patients too (Masys et al., 2000). The health information technology is quickly revolutionizing particularly in the manner that nurses and health professionals are interacting with health related data and the main component of this is electronic health records (Darvish et al., 2014). The patients today have needs that are complex and that call more than just a single discipline to attend to them, and it is electronic health records that have enhanced inter-professional collaboration. Therefore it can be agreed upon that technology has helped nursing tune its perspective to being patient-centred and this has been made possible by the branch of nursing known as informatics nurse specialists. In conclusion, health information technology offers a platform that makes the work of nurses easier and efficient in ensuring quality health care.
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