Nursing professionals in Health IT- A Dream to Dream by Medha Verma

“To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.” 
― Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol


The quote aptly fits in when talking about ‘Health informatics’ that has slowly and steadily entered healthcare. Nurses were at the forefront when this happened. The history goes long back when the first computer was introduced to wireless devices that nurses use in patient care now.


If you are in healthcare, you must have come across this group of professionals here and there. Well, everywhere! Nurses often are bridging professionals in healthcare hence they were one of the few professionals who were impacted the most with the introduction of HIT in India and across the globe. 


How are Nurses involved in HIT?

Nurses are part of the informatics team (though indirectly) in most set-ups and mostly involved as ‘implementers’. Whether we talk about the patient monitoring systems or coordinating patient care through electronic heath records or HIS systems. Even in the remote places where the full-fledged systems are yet to be introduced, HIT is practiced in some capacity by the nurses. 
Role of nurses has been significant in successful adoption of any healthcare technology. Nurses shoulder the responsibility of successful implementation of any healthcare technology and must be part of the whole process from the time of conception. 


Nursing Informatics in India 

Nursing informatics is a quite a familiar term used to describe all the efforts directed towards efficient patient care and nursing practice using information technology and its application. Definition is subjected to change with change in technological invasion in healthcare. 

In India, we have proudly acknowledged nursing informatics with a ‘premier institute’ recognizing the need and supporting the whole concept. Indian Nursing Council is expected to include nursing informatics as a separate subject. It has been long emphasized that inclusion of nursing informatics is warranted but essentially it is time to take action, which is happening across the country. 


Nurses as Informaticist 

Every nurse ever- most of the nurses working in hospital are practicing nursing informatics as they participate in patient care digitally by using the electronic health records, extracting data and communicating it, using digital devices or using information technology in education and research. 


Telenursing- 

It is indispensable to include nurses in reaching the remote areas. Successful models in Indian setting in private and government set ups have time and again proven that nurses played significant role for successful implementations.  


E-learning and simulation- 

There are many attempts throughout the country to adopt the use of e-learning in nursing is promoting the use of technology and e-learning platforms to enhance nursing practice. Use of sophisticated high fidelity simulation, synchronous and asynchronous e-learning methods are derived examples of informatics. Many remain ignorant that these practices are essentially the important aspects of progressing informatics. 

Data entry or Informatics?

It is commendable that we have started to spot the word ‘informaticist’ here and there. But we still wonder; Are nurses who are practicing in clinical setting actually practicing informatics or simply entering information? Does entering information in the system really classify as informatics? 

Practicing informatics is understanding, utilizing and using the information for better patient care and nursing practice. And going a step further to participate in its development and use it wisely. 



Where have we reached globally?

The Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER) Initiative was established in 2006 in the United States where the key areas of nursing informatics were identified. Initially the competency model focused on the following three parts.



Note that, components of competencies are measured against a standard. For Indian context we need to adapt it differently. TIGER initiative has moved ahead and is now promoting the Virtual Learning Centre. Learn more here: 

https://www.himss.org/tiger-virtual-learning-environment-0.


Indian adoption of Nursing Informatics 

It is expected in near future that Indian Nursing Council will recognize this as a specialty with defined curriculum. But the problem identified is mostly to train the current task force. Nurses have mostly adopted and accepted the change and have helped transform many initiative from introducing a new EHR system, telehealth and many public health initiative. The big question however remains unanswered, how many technological initiatives have defined standards and direct documentation related to nursing informatics.

It is time we utilize nursing manpower with care and identify the nursing leaders to showcase their abilities to transform HIT. 


Author

Medha Verma
A PhD Scholar from National Consortium for PhD in Nursing by Indian Nursing Council working on knowledge assessment of nursing professionals and students on Nursing Informatics. Master (Critical Care) Nursing and B.Sc. (Hons) Nursing from AIIMS, Delhi. Worked in various capacities in clinical education, supervision, educator and coordinator for Post Basic Diploma in Critical Care Nursing, Indian Nursing Council. With more than 10 years of experience in nursing education, practice and administration, currently working with e-learning medical education company as content strategist and trainer for nursing professionals and allied health professionals. Peer editor for Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (HIMSS) and committee member of HIMMS APAC India Chapter.

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