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Nursing informatics is an emerging specialty within nursing that has rapidly grown to be recognized as a core profession in nursing. Most of the nurses’ work in their places of work involving documentation has made information technology and use of computers very essential. Informatics is a nursing specialty that blends nursing science, computer science and information science to manipulate and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice (Nagle et al., 2014). Informatics incorporates data and information to aid patient and other health providers in their decision making roles. This support is made possible by information structures, processes, and technology. This specialty also engages in the legal and proper use of data information and knowledge. Use of wireless communication, monitoring systems run using computers, computerized ordering, and computerized documentation has become mandatory to the nursing practice and it is this discovering that healthcare data and information can be better handled and conveyed using computers that have triggered the advent of nursing informatics science. These attempts have also further increased the deployment of nursing informatics personnel as more of their services are needed in the hospital set- up.
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Examples of healthcare informatics
Biomedical imaging informatics is a field whose objectives is based on improving patient outcome via the use of images and imaging information both in research and in giving care to patients. Biomedical imaging has become an important aspect of patient care that involves areas of medicine such as radiology, pathology, ophthalmology, and dermatology. The main goals of biomedical imaging are to assist in disease diagnosis, tracing disease responses to treatment and therefore helps to predict patient outcome successfully (Rubin, Greenspan, & Brinkley, 2014).
Clinical research informatics is a field that serves to strengthen interactions, discussions, and collaboration among individual or groups participating or whose vested interest is in research informatics (Nagle et al., 2014).
Dental informatics provides a platform for an individual with interest to get involved in health informatics to obtaining dental information. This serves as a link with other healthcare and informatics specialties to help in improving healthcare service delivery. The core goal is in the sharing of information and expertise in the use of dental information system and computer technology all with the aim to improve patient care (Nagle et al., 2014).
Intensive care informatics unites all experts to improve outcomes for the critically ill and injured patients that require urgent care and close monitoring with the help of medical informatics.
Global health informatics aims to share informatics practices, especially in resource-limited countries. This goal is achieved through the dissemination of global health informatics practices, facilitating collaboration in the investigation of emerging technologies and disruptive innovations and advocating for efficiency in evaluating for informatics interventions.
Information theory’s concern is on the adaptability of a message through a particular channel for better transmission through the flexibility of structures; space of the facilities and the capabilities of the staff, process; changes in the volume, cost, and suitability of the activities being done. Outcome; the change in health care status of the object under scrutiny (Webster, 2014).
Advantages of health informatics
Advantages of health informatics include: accuracy; health informatics is the systematic means of keeping and retrieving data thus more accurate than the mere recollection of data from patients with existing medical complications (Nagle et al., 2014). Incomplete or incorrect information from the patient could lead to adverse effects befalling a patient. Patient safety is safeguarded through health informatics where accurate patient information is obtained or retrieved when needed.
Efficiency; health informatics enhance better collaborative care within the healthcare setting by reducing duplication of efforts and thus help to reduce unnecessary hospital stays for patients.
Improving patient care; health informatics avails computerized guidelines that are useful in providing guidelines to help clinicians or other caregivers to make sound decisions regarding their patient’s diagnoses. This standardization ensures that patients are accorded the best treatment thus better patient outcome.
Health informatics has helped tackle the problem associated with space required to store voluminous paper data and thus economical in use of limited space and also good news for the environment (Nagle et al., 2014).
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Challenges of informatics
Disadvantages of hospital informatics include: expensive; an advanced technology comes with inflated costs to install and maintain the required machines owing to the high life expectancy the elderly population has outnumbered the working population leading to economic crises caused by high dependency levels that have been caused by the improved health care.
Since technology is ever-changing, the challenges of upgrading to recent software and new techniques of doing things. In order to keep abreast with these changes, continuous education is essential and also a challenge to the aged staff.
In the cases where staffs have adapted to new ways of working, system failures or technical errors could become a challenge as more time is wasted in trying to adapt to the older ways. This could be of detrimental effects on the caregivers assigned to critical care patients where machine use is depended upon.
Patient confidentiality has also become a topic of concern as cases regarding patient medical information continuously leak to third parties after the system gets hacked (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2014). This has raised legal questions pertaining patient confidentiality, and to whether stored information on patients could be kept secure using health informatics systems.
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Future of health informatics
Privacy and security remain a concern as patients demand their data availed online in order to set an appointment, fill prescriptions at the same time allowing patients have greater control over their health. Patients have also been allowed to transmit their data through telehealth applications from remote sensors on medicine bottles an approach that will help maintain contact between the patient and their caregivers. Emotional sensing and collection of data based on sentient, emotional technology have become emerging issue in informatics. The goal here is to measure the level of distress during patient interaction with their caregivers. Some phone vendors have also developed an application on smartphones to monitor blood pressure levels and temperature (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2014).
In conclusion, the majority of healthcare staff remain un-informed on the use of new technology especially the aged staff. The advancement of nursing informatics is evident, and involvement of nurses in the structuring and application of nursing information is paramount. Since informatics in health is useful in all health care practices training should be imparted to all healthcare staff to make health informatics a useful tool for administering nursing care to patients.
- McGonigle, D., & Mastrian, K. (2014). Nursing informatics and the foundation of knowledge. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
- Nagle, L. M., Crosby, K., Frisch, N., Borycki, E. M., Donelle, L., Hannah, K. J. & Shaben, T. (2014). Developing entry-to-practice nursing informatics competencies for registered nurses. In Nursing Informatics (pp. 356–363).
- Rubin, D. L., Greenspan, H., & Brinkley, J. F. (2014). Biomedical imaging informatics. In Biomedical Informatics (pp. 285–327). Springer.
- Webster, F. (2014). Theories of the information society. Routledge.