Information Technology in Health Care Practice

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Nursing informatics can be defined as the use of information and computer technologies to support nursing practice in area of administration, education and research (Hebda, Czar & Mascara, 2005). This paper will be used to discuss the use if informatics in my clinical area of home health and discuss ways, if applicable, in which it could possibly be improved as well. Streamlining Paperwork/Communication

Informatics can both streamline and hinder the paperwork that goes into home health and the communication amongst clinicians with regard to the care patients receive. The positive of informatics in my clinical area of home health is that clinicians can easily follow what is going on with patients by looking up the documentation made by the clinician who previously saw the patient in question. This makes life convenient because the clinician would not have to call the previous clinician to inquire what is going on with the patient. There are times that clinicians take a day off and would not be available to be asked about particular patients; so in the event of this occurrence, patients can be safely and accurately cared for. According to Hebda, Czar and Mascara (2005), one of the examples of how nursing informatics support the area of nursing practice is in the quick access to computer-archived patient data from previous encounters.

Another positive in the use of technology in communication is the use of email. By being able to email clinicians information or in asking questions needed to proceed with different processes, it eliminates the dreaded “phone tag.” Also the use of digital cameras enable clinicians to take pictures of patient wounds that can be forwarded to physicians or certified wound care nurses who can aid in formulating a wound care plan to heal wounds.

The negative of this is that clinicians are not always so thorough or timely in their documentation of their visits, so therefore the following clinician has no idea what transpired during the visit prior to his/hers. Abrahamsen (2003) stated that hand-held units that send patient information directly to the electronic medical record provide faster, more accurate documentation. The current health care delivery system does not utilize its resources to the best of its ability, including information technology (Hebda, et. al, 2005). Many clinicians don’t bother to call to find out because they depend on obtaining this information in the patient’s charts electronically and oftentimes end up duplicating work. Also, it is possible that the clinician could perform tasks that were not ordered or perform tasks that have been discontinued due to new orders being put into place. It is the professional responsibility of the nurse to ensure they are always following doctor’s orders and make sure they are aware of the most recent orders put into place.

One way to improve the negative would be through re-education of nurses by way of presentation of vital statistics demonstrating the harm that can come to patients if we are not prudent and aware of what is needed to carry out the plans of care for our patients. According to Hood and Leddy (2006), relatively unbiased presentation of fact is assumed to provide a rational justification for action (p. 545). However, re-education is useless without strong need and motivation amongst those in need of re-educating. Decision Support Tools

Smith (2004) stated that clinical decision support can be offered to assist clinicians in decision making. The use informatics in my agency is useful in providing support in the decisions that need to be made on a daily basis by administration. Even with the advent of technology, there is always a paper trail somewhere to trace back all employees’ work. By comparing employees’ documentation to paper versions left in the patient’s home, administration can decide whether or not employees are possibly cheating and being dishonest. Also, the software tracks how long a...
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