“If we cannot name it, we cannot control it, finance it, teach it, research it or put it into public policy.”
(When nurses can describe what they do in terms that the public and others can understand, they begin measuring it, evaluating it, and validating its impact on the nation’s health, research, and public policy. )
–By Lang, N. 1993
The focus of traditional clinical nurse is taking care of patients. Therefore, historically, computers in nursing were seen as to manage patient care data, to analysis data into information in order to monitor quality of care, and eventually help evaluate patient outcomes. With the commonly used of networks, clinicians are now using computers for communications via internet, obtain and exchange information and resources, and interact within multidiscipline and as well as interacting with patients and patient family members. In the meantime, nurses found themselves in the mid of using computer systems for patient care planning, system managing, policy making, nursing education, and nursing researches.
- In 1950s, computers were first use in health care industry for basic office administrative and financial accounting functions.
- In 1960s, computers first introduced into nurses’ station in hospital setting, which negative reports noted as nursing documentation time increased by approximately 40% and a rise in medication administration errors occurred.
- In 1970s, hospitals began developing computer-based information systems which initially focused on physician order entry and results reporting; pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology reports; information for financial and managerial purposes; physiologic monitoring systems in the intensive care units; and a few systems started to include care planning, decision support, and interdisciplinary problem lists. In the same period of time, public and home health also demonstrated interest in computers used, along with hospitals, embarked on investigating computers and nursing. During this time, the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health implemented one of the earliest clinical information systems in nursing practice.
- In 1980s, nursing software evolved, many mainframe health information systems at this time emerged with nursing subsystems.
- In 1990s, technology rapidly changed and advanced. In 1992, the American Nurses Association (ANA) identified nursing informatics (NI) as a nursing specialty.
What is nursing informatics?
- NI is the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice.
- Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom are the building blocks of information science.
- The Data to Wisdom Continuum
- Data are raw facts and lack meaning and can be described without being interpreted
- Information is generally defined in terms of data (facts and details) about a subject
- Knowledge is defined by information
- Wisdom is defined in terms of knowledge
- NI supports nurses, consumers, patients, the interprofessional healthcare team, and other stakeholders in their decision-making in all roles and settings to achieve desired outcomes. This support is accomplished through the use of information structures, information processes, and information technology.
Informatics nurses functions including to provide tools for standardized documentation, manage information and analyze data, re-engineer information processes and promote standardization, participate in research and collection of data, provide nursing management and administration, serve as a consultant in the field of informatics, promote and provide professional development activities including training of human-computer interaction systems, advocate for changes in policies, serve as advocate for staff and patients, ensure implementation of electronic health records and computerized physician order entry systems, and provide support to clinical applications.