What is Nursing Informatics?

what-is-nursing-informaticsUnderstanding what nursing informatics is may help the next generation of professional caregivers impact the way in which healthcare is enacted.

It’s no secret that the men and women acting as nursing professionals hold a special niche in the healthcare landscape, performing the bulk of day-to-day care tasks and tests.

As computers and software become increasingly important to these tasks, having nurses who are both competent caregivers and knowledgeable in the fields of computer science, statistical analysis, and employ other vital analytical tools will become ever more crucial.

Speaking the Language

This variation of the informatics field essentially makes nursing jobs easier. It’s a blend of computer science, directed and crafted by individuals with nursing experience. These people know the right questions to ask, how to make databases more effective, and how to craft programs that will act as filing or assist with analysis on a daily basis. They have a nursing degree, and often work in a healthcare setting such as a hospital, doctor’s office, or nursing home.

But because they also possess computer knowledge of a higher order of magnitude, they perform another role. Whenever a program is designed, it must be configured and tested. People must be trained to use it and the program must be put into practical use. Those trained in nursing informatics will often help at one or more of these phases. They also may act as liaisons between the designers and companies creating the programs and those intended to use them in a working setting.

From Points A to B

Whenever a program is designed to assist in a specific task or group of nurses, the informatics professional will meet with the proposed group of people to discuss how a new system works, how it will fulfill the needs of a task or routine, and provide a practical demonstration of the new program under consideration.

Informatics professionals also fill other roles. They gather practical data before, during, and after the implementation of new software or diagnostic tools. Workflow within the department or group in question is also vital—and informatics professionals pay close attention to this domain.

Once this vital data has been gathered, the individual will liaise with the software design team, providing the additional information. A closer understanding of practical implementation in the context of workflow and duties performed will allow the designers to refine their program, tailoring it to the needs of the nurses.

But informatics nurses may also play an active role in software configuration. They may tailor applications to meet the needs of different nursing professionals—designing the diagnostic assessments filled out by on-duty nurses, streamlining the database into which patient information is entered, or using their understanding of the nursing profession to enhance the utility of a proposed program. Informatics nurses are, more often than not, involved in the training, testing, and practical implementation of new programs. They comprehend the training needs, and understand the different ways in which software must be used within a working setting.

This application of informatics is unspeakably important to the successful implementation of new programs and diagnostic tools in the healthcare environment. Nurses who are trained to work in this environment and also have practical experience can further enhance their career path by pursuing a job in this vein. Because the two fields must communicate in order to work well together, otherwise, programs will be inefficiently designed and will not serve the needs of doctors, nurses, or patients. Nursing informatics, therefore, is a field of endeavor that will only grow in the years to come.