The Relevance of Informatics to Nurse Practitioner
Sewell (2016) describes informatics as “the use of information technology (IT) in healthcare…its focus is information management.” The future of a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) is not immune to informatics if they are at all concerned with the quality of health care. “There are two roles in informatics: the informatics nurse specialist and the clinician who must use HIT,” (health information technology), “this means that in essence every nurse has a role in informatics” (Sewell, 2016). I suspect my future role as a PMHNP will be as a user of health information technology. Informatics covers a wide domain, much bigger than just using computers. “Many aspects such as data recovery, ethics, patient care, decision support systems, human computer interaction, information systems, imaging informatics, computer science, information science, security, electronic patient records, intelligent systems, e-learning and telenursing have been added to the field” (Darvish, Behramnezhad, Keyhanian, & Navidhamidi, 2014). Education is needed for all nurses on informatics because they are spontaneously assimilated into it just by choosing a career in nursing. “Managing information pertaining to nursing is the focus of nursing informatics” (Sewell, 2016). The future role of the PMHNP will use informatics in “health care promotion,” “advanced systems,” “internet and network,” and “related organizations activity” (Darvish et al., 2014).
Informatics for the PMHNP can be used to promote quality health care. Technology will be present in everyday practice. “Today, the subjects of clinical nursing information systems, decision support systems and medical diagnostic systems are associated with collecting patient information” (Darvish et al., 2014). Collecting data, storing data and presenting data through technology improves quality of care. Without information systems, access to evidence, or electronic tools, nurse practitioners would be unable to offer evidence-based care, give quality time and promote healing. For example, the electronic health record stores information and can present it to the practitioner in one sitting, saving valuable time while they become familiar with the patients medical record. Using “information systems can provide better access to evidence; it can affect the patient care quality…” (Darvish et al., 2014) saving the practitioner time. Using informatics can increase the quality of care delivered.
The use of decision support systems is another way informatics is integrated into the PMHNP practice. The mountain of evidence practitioners are expected to remain up-to-date on while writing prescriptions or diagnosing a patient is overwhelming. “Computerized decision support systems aim to support clinicians in such tasks and through so doing enhance both the quality and safety of care” (Cresswell, Majeed, Bates, & Sheikh, 2013). Although these systems support the practitioner, they can hinder them by decreasing the use of critical thinking and becoming too reliant on the technology. “Expert systems are the most common types of clinical decision support systems and have applications in show notes, diagnostic support, critical treatment plans, decision support, prescriptions, recovery and the identification and the interpretation of pictures, however, as stand-alone tools, are not able to replace the human expertise” (Darvish et al., 2014). Nurse Practitioners can play a role in the development and education of such systems to ensure improved practice and efficiency without causing harm to patients.
The Internet will have an important place in the PMHNPs future practice. Connection to the Internet with the inclusion of tools, allows a practitioner and patient to communication more effectively. The combination of the Internet, computer, video and communication software, allows practitioners to see patients online and remotely through telemedicine. “In this regard, easy remote diagnostic software and hardware are designed to facilitate E-health services” (Darvish et al., 2014). Telemedicine has so many benefits it is not unlikely that the PMHNP will have interaction with some form of it in the future. It offers, “various services such as education, patient monitoring and counseling through Internet facilities” (Darvish et al., 2014). Patients are empowered by online education that promotes “their self-care behavior” and practitioners are inspired by “enhancing and upgrading their knowledge” (Darvish et al., 2014). Another aspect of the Internet is the access to evidence-based care, information on new technology, and peer-reviewed journals with the click of a button. This ensures PMHNPs can provide safe, quality care. Networking is another way the PMHNP can use the Internet. Through the use of social media, practitioners can communicate with each other and with patients. Information sharing becomes quick and easy when connected with others via the Internet.
Organizations operate with many technologies to monitor patients and collect data. A PMHNP can expect to use an electronic medical record if working for an organization. Some other technologies used are “patient monitoring systems,” “computerized provider order entry,” “data capturing tools,” “care planning tools and telehealth” (Darvish et al., 2014). Health information technology (HIT) helps practitioners manage data. A PMHNP can expect education on using HIT if working within an organization. Technology will continue to expand and change, requiring PMHNPs to attend continuing education in order to stay up-to-date with technology and teach/educate other professionals about it. The future within an organization will expose the practitioner to many forms of HIT.
In conclusion, informatics is relevant to my future role as a PMHNP. The Graduate QSEN Competencies provided by QSEN (2018) include being competent in informatics as the “use of information and technology to communicate, manage knowledge, mitigate error, and support decision making” (QSEN, 2018). Information technology and data management will be essential to providing safe, evidence-based, quality care to patients. All of today’s medical knowledge without the use of technology would be impossible for a practitioner to comprehend and use in their practice. Quality time spent with patients increases because technology and data management systems decrease the amount of time practitioners spend acquiring patient data. The PMHNP will use information systems, decision support tools, the Internet, patient monitoring systems, provider entry systems, data management, and telemedicine, among many others, to better assist patients. Education on informatics for all nurses is essential. “Given the demands of an increasingly electronic health care environment, the nursing workforce must be adequately prepared to use such health care information technologies” (Choi & Bakken, 2013). As a future, PMHNP, I can see myself as a “clinician who must use HIT,” (Sewell, 2016); therefore, I must embrace informatics and keep up-to-date with the informatics competencies. Informatics in healthcare is relevant today and will only become more relevant in the future.