Just like other fields, the nursing profession is turning towards using computers for many areas of their daily tasks. These areas include documentation, building an information database, and communication between shifts, departments, and even facilities. A broad base of benefits come with nursing informatics, both in terms of direct and individual job performance and in terms of benefits to the nursing profession overall. According to McCormick and Delaney (2004) “many reports” support computerizing nursing practices “in reducing medical errors and encourage implementation of evidence-based healthcare practice” (p. 4).
One recommended format for informatic systems is that of bedside terminals. McCormick and Delaney state that these easy-to-use systems have the benefits of care plan integration, eliminating data redundancy, and increased accessibility of data. The authors also indicate that there are “soft benefits related to improvements in patients safety,” as well as in communication between nurses and smoother workflow between care providers (p. 4).
A survey conducted by Lofstrom (2004) for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) indicated that quality initiatives, including problem solving and patient care, were identified by 25% of the respondents as being among their top three job responsibilities (p. 4). Many of the survey respondents also identified development and implementing informatics as part of their daily tasks (p. 8).
These suggested uses and benefits all indicate that nursing informatics are becoming an integral part of the profession as a whole. They benefit the individual nurse and his or her patients because they create simplified record keeping and record sharing. However, they also benefit the profession as a whole because they encourage more consistency in nursing terminology. Despite these benefits, however, most of the nursing informatic professionals responding to the survey were not responsible for patient care (p. 4).
Nursing informatics have the potential for benefiting both nurses and their patients as they are integrated into current nursing systems. Although the benefits they provide to patients might not be direct, they are present in terms of increased record-keeping clarity and increased patient safety.
Lofstrom, J. (2004). 2004 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Survey. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. http://www.himss.org/content/files/nursing_info_survey2004.pdf
McCormick, K. and Delaney, C. (2004). Nursing informatics leadership response to President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) questions regarding “The New Healthcare: How Information Technology is Transforming America’s Health Care System.” http://www.allianceni.org/doc/PITACResponse.pdf