In the 1960s, innovation entered the nursing profession and the really first computer systems were integrated into medical facilities. The early computer system systems were carried out in order to process orders promptly and keep a precise record of charges incurred by clients throughout their hospital stay (Murphy, 2010). Over the next couple of years, technology enhanced and started to revolutionize the nursing occupation, documents and communication throughout the medical facility went from pen and paper to online databases filled with electronic client information (Murphy, 2010).
The introduction of NI has “prompted significant improvement in healthcare, together with increased attention to client safety and outcome” (HIMSS Nursing Informatics Awareness Job Force, 2007, p. 38). Nursing informatics (NI) was lastly acknowledged as a specialized in the mid-1990s (Murphy, 2010) Nursing informatics continued to progress and the clinical setting began utilizing electronic health records in patient care locations. Electronic health records (EHR) resembles the nursing process, in which computer charting utilizes a hands on method where the clinician is accountable for physically inputting the data achieved into the Electronic Health Record. (McFadden, 2012).
EHR was a huge push by President Bush in 2004, he mandated that the electronic health record be worldwide in the United States within ten years and created the Office of the National Coordinator for Health information Technology (HIMSS Nursing Informatics Awareness Task Force, 2007). The concept behind the electronic health record was to redesign the way patient care was delivered so that documentation and data gathering was integrated and automatically uploaded eliminating the room for errors and or misinformation (McFadden, 2012).
Today nursing informatics uses technology to improve its clinical nursing practice as well as to enhance the quality of patient care (Saba, 2001). As patients change, technology in the hospital setting must change and adapt as well. In order to make sure that the Electronic Health Record is as user friendly as possible for the majority of the clinicians using the system, TIGER was formed. “TIGER which stands for Technology Informatics Guiding Specialties which is a national collaborative of nurses from various specialties” (“TIGER,” 2010, p. 11). Nurses who are on the front line taking care of patients first hand bring knowledge of how information can be supported and improved upon in the clinical process and decision-making, which ultimately improves quality and patient outcome (“TIGER,” 2010). TIGER has improved nursing informatics by intertwining technology into the nursing practice, therefore making health information technology the stethoscope for the 21st century (“TIGER,” 2010). Along with the continuing development of technology CPOE (Computerized Provider Order Entry) was developed freeing nurses from having to transcribe physicians hand writing and eliminating the need for order clarification made via phone calls improving quality control and patient outcomes. (Thede, 2012).
Lab results are readily available through Point Of Care seconds after a test is completed in order for nurses and physicians to have information to review and determine further course of treatment the moment the results become available (Thede, 2012). Nursing informatics has a direct impact on nurses. Nurses spend roughly 50% of their time documenting and as little as 15% at the patient bedside (HIMSS Nursing Informatics Awareness Task Force, 2007). Our role as a nurse is being redefined by computers allowing more time to actually nurse patients to health and less time documenting our measures used to return them to health. As stated by HIMSS Nursing Informatics Task Force (2007) “this movement toward evidence based clinical practice is designed by a clinical information system which serves as the integrator that supports clinical judgment and client values” (p. 31). Nursing informatics will continue to improve and will become able to process data more quickly than it does now (Saba, 2001).
In the 21st century, nursing informatics is part of our everyday professional activity. The majority of healthcare professionals are computer literate as utilizing a computer and accessing patient records has become a part of our everyday duties as nurses. (Saba, 2001). As we continue to move toward a more IT world, nursing informaticists will continue to work with nurses to ensure that our practice is further enhanced by new technology (HIMSS Nursing Informatics Awareness Task Force, 2007). As clinicians is our duty to be prepared and properly trained with the most recent technological advances so we can spend less time finding where to document information or inputting information and more time fulfilling other nursing duties.
In summary, according to Murphy (2010) “nursing informatics has evolved to an integral part of health care delivery and a differentiating factor in the selection, implementation, and evaluation of health IT that supports safe, high-quality, patient-centric care” (p. 207). It is time for nurses to leave the past ways of paper charting and embrace what the future has for us in the ever evolving technological world. Our profession is being transformed to meet the needs of patients and allowing clinicians to keep accurate records but doing so in a timely and safe manner. Nursing informatics is a tool which is in place to make it easier to keep accurate records, spend more time interacting and caring for patients, and have one place to look for information regarding patient care.