Nursing is the core of flow of information in most health care facilities therefore, if nursing informatics is developed, it will augment the availability of information to nurses for clinical practice, education, management and research ( Scholes & Barber, 2010). Informatics is a combination of computer science and information science (Scholes & Barber, 2010). As a result, nursing informatics is a specialty that integrates computer science, nursing science and information science to help in the management and processing of nursing data, information and knowledge to support the nursing practice (Brennan, 2009). A study done in Taiwan showed that 45% of the nurses were computer illiterate yet nursing informatics is a field of study that is currently emerging and it requires that nurses should be computer literate (Turley & Masys, 2010). This means that a lot of emphasis is required so that nurses become computer literate and get involved in nursing informatics.
Although most of the content of nursing informatics is common to informatics in general, nursing informatics has a diverse variation of practice and it deals with a variety of clients in different settings like the health care facility, homes and community (Scholes & Barber, 2010). Besides, it involves interaction between informatics and nursing science in a context that is multifaceted and includes economic, cultural, physical and social aspect (Turley & Masys, 2010). To add on this, nursing informatics includes all the four components of the nursing paradigms, which are health, environment, patient and nursing (Brennan, 2009). In addition to the paradigms, nursing informatics focuses on data, information and knowledge used by nurses (Walker, 2009). For that reason, nurses who are practicing nursing informatics use information technology to deliver quality care to the patient, to research, to administrate and to enhance their education (Turley & Masys, 2010).
Nurses should be involved in nursing informatics because it can enhance many health care activities (Walker, 2009). To begin with, a nurse who works in the clinical area cannot only document the patients care but also access a lot of information that is relevant to the care of the patient in the internet and besides, patients’ outcome can be monitored using automated clinical pathway (Werley & Sayers, 2010). Secondly, a nurse director can manage hospital finances using accounting software and besides, the nurse can easily schedule, staff or manage resources using computer programs thus making work easy (Walker, 2009). Thirdly, in a qualitative research done about the reasons as to why nurses do not engage in research works, 10% of the interviewers responded that they could not research because they did not have access to information (Werley & Sayers, 2010). This is a harrowing event because nursing informatics assists nurse researchers in gaining access to a variety of information about patient care using data- base management tool (Werley & Sayers, 2010). Finally, nurse can enhance their education through nursing informatics because online classes are available and nurses can get bachelors, masters or doctorate degrees (Walker, 2009).
Although a research conducted revealed that 53% of the nurses were not familiar with the role of informatics nurses, there are many roles of the informatics nurses and they include the following (Brennan, 2009). First, the nurse has the responsibility of developing, implementing and training within the nursing department (Brennan, 2009). Secondly, the nurse is responsible for the clinical information needs of the nursing department and he works collaboratively with the department of nursing and the staff of the medical information system (Werley & Sayers, 2010). Thirdly, the nurse orients the other nurses and physicians to the policies and procedures regarding information system and act as a resource person regarding the hospital information system (Werley & Sayers, 2010). Finally, the nurse updates the health care professionals on any new program on the information system (Walker, 2009).
In a research about nursing informatics competencies, the conclusion was that acceptance of a culture in nursing that encourages the reception and the use of information technology is an imperative initiative in establishing nursing informatics competencies (Walker, 2009). As a result, training is the way forward in achieving nursing informatics competencies and most theorists emphasize on the need of computer literacy to every nurse so that training becomes easier (Walker, 2009). Most of the taxonomies that describe nursing informatics competencies focus on a three-tiered system (Turley & Masys, 2010). The first is the user level and at this stage the nurse can enter, retrieve and manipulate data hence this level of competency is termed as technical (Turley & Masys, 2010). The second is the modifier level, the nurse can interpret data into information that has effect on the nursing practice, and utility is the name of this level of competency (Werley & Sayers, 2010). The final is the innovator level and the nurse can contribute to the development of knowledge in nursing through combination of information thus this level of competency is termed as leadership (Werley & Sayers, 2010).
Nursing informatics is of importance to the nursing profession as it facilitates a comprehensive management of the patient because all the health care professionals who are involved in the holistic management of the patient share the patient’s data (Walker, 2009). Furthermore, the data is complete, accurate, easily archived, legible and well maintained, therefore, the chances of error reduce while the standard of care increase (Walker, 2009). On the other hand, nursing informatics is of advantage to the health care professionals because it is time effective, it improves data integrity and it has a flexible conceptual design (Turley & Masys, 2010). On the management side, nursing informatics is cost effective in the end because it cuts down on the cost of stationeries (Werley & Sayers, 2010)
Despite the fact that nursing informatics is of benefit, it also has some disadvantages because it requires computer literacy that is a threat to many people and this can interfere with its implementation because many nurses will be unwilling to adapt to the changes (Werley & Sayers, 2010). A research done about computer literacy in nursing showed that 20% of the nurses were computer illiterate and this means that a lot of training has to be done if nursing informatics is to be adapted (Werley and Sayers, 2010). Additionally, it is hard to guarantee the security and confidentiality of the data because a malicious person with access to the data can easily tamper with it and finally, it is expensive to install the nursing informatics (Werley & Sayers, 2010).
Although nursing informatics has some disadvantages, it is knowledge engineering because through the internet, nurses are able to equip themselves with the knowledge that is relevant to patients care and this will increase the standard of patients care (Walker, 2009). Additionally, nursing informatics helps in solving problems that emerge in the nursing practice for example cost and confidentiality problems (Werley & Sayers, 2010). For instance, the safety of the patient information is a guarantee if people who are not involved in the patient’s management do not access the password (Walker, 2009). Finally, nurse informatics enhances technology because it requires that all the nurses be computer literate (Walker, 2009). The enhancement of technology is significant because it will make the management of patients be smooth sailing and time effective as data retrieval and analysis will be easy and faster (Brennan, 2009).
Brennan, P. (2009). Nursing Informatics: The Emerging Field. Journal of the American Medical Informative Assosiation , 12 (7), 234-236.
Scholes, L., & Barber, Z. (2010). Nursing Informatics:Why should Nurses be Involved in Informatics. National Nursing Informatics Journal , 65 (4), 56-59.
Turley, K., & Masys, M. (2010). Nursing Informatics: The Unfolding of New Science. Journal of Proffessional Nursing , 3 (9), 64-70.
Walker, S. (2009). The Nursing Informatics Workforse: Who are they and what do they do? Journal of Nursing Education , 26 (2), 27-29.
Werley, A., & Sayers, G. (2010). Towards Nursing Informatics:Scope and Standards of Nursing Informatics Practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing , 12 (15), 18-20.