The healthcare sector in the US has undergone immense transformations in the past century with numerous achievement experiences in the past few years. The resulting impact of these changes has been improved patient outcomes and delivery of high quality patient care. A huge chunk of positive developments in healthcare can be attributed to the emergence of health informatics as key area of specialty in the healthcare profession. Health informatics is a combination of health science and computer science to support positive patient outcomes through reducing medical costs, limiting medical errors, increasing the life expectancy, and creating an overwhelming influence on improving healthcare delivery. With the continued progression of the field of health informatics, there is every indication that there will be further improvements in the delivery of quality patient care and improving the experience of patients undergoing treatment.
Health informatics is an emerging field of specialty in the healthcare profession. It only emerged in the past decade when the need for relying on information communications technology (ICT) to improve the healthcare system. The government, through various legislations such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) under the Obama government, has been very pivotal in promoting health informatics. Through such legislations, the federal government has initiated a motivational approach that aims at rewarding professionals and leaders in the health sector whenever one implements an electronic medical system. These professionals receive different types of specialized training to enable them attend to specialized healthcare needs. Therefore, health informatics has emerged as the single most critical aspect of offering quality patient care.
Nursing informatics is comparatively a new field of specialty in nursing, having emerged in the later stages of the 20th century. The field is only about three decades old, but has helped achieve immense strides in improving the quality of care provided to patients. Nursing informatics integrates various fields such as information science, computer science, and nursing science in order to provide reliable solutions that improve patient outcomes, reduce the costs of accessing healthcare, and devise new strategies for teaching as well as patient management (Sullivan-Marx, 2010).
According to The International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA), nursing informatics is a science and practice (that) integrates nursing, its information and knowledge, with management of information and communication technologies to promote the health of people, families, and communities worldwide (Saba & McCormick, 2011).
Nursing informaticists help to create information that can be applied throughout the nursing profession to enforce a patient cantered culture or approach in providing quality healthcare. Nursing informaticists work in different capacities in different healthcare environments including working as researchers, educators, developers of information and communication technologies, chief nursing officers, software engineers, policy developers, implementation consultants and chief information officers. Among some of the areas where health informatics has helped improve include the following.
One of the most notable impacts that health informatics has had on the health sector in the US is on minimizing the cases of medical errors. Studies indicate that about 75% of consumers in the healthcare sector are mainly concerned with instances of medical errors. Conversely, another 68% of consumers in the industry are of the opinions that nursing informatics has been at the forefront of improving the decision making process and intelligence. More health professionals continue to use informatics and technological systems to improve their healthcare delivery.
Also, health informatics has helped improve the efficiency with through which healthcare is delivered. For example, healthcare delivery systems, along with many other emerging media, it will be necessary to manage the time effectively. Health informatics ensures that nurses and other health professionals manage their time with patients effectively in order to reduce the time and time. In addition, healthcare informative has improved the healthcare system in the country by making it easier for clients. Health informatics has made it easier for health professionals to communicate amongst themselves as well as with clients. The health informatics field relies on various electronic programs to collect and store, and retrieve records on patients as well as on various diseases. This information can also be shared amongst health professionals in order to facilitate the process of making related judgments and decisions that improve the industry.
The other broad area where health informatics has played a key role in bringing forth improvements is on patient care. Health informatics has a direct impact on improved delivery of quality care to patients. For example, the use of systems such as telecast has made it possible for doctors and other health professionals to transmit information to patients in their homes. Digital programs and strategies such as this have helped shape the direction taken in improving the health sector. Other key systems to note include Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Personal Health Records (PHR) have also contributed immeasurably towards improving the health sector. Based on these trends, nursing informatics is poised to play an even greater role in the nursing profession in the future.
One of the key trends in contemporary healthcare is ensuring personalized care by focusing on the different needs of the patients and consumers of healthcare. Personalized care involves using a multi-disciplinary approach in order to understand the needs of the patients and adjust the treatment plan to reflect the different needs of each patient (Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O'Grady, 2014). The other emerging trend in the healthcare sector is interoperability. This relates to the attempts to universalize the nursing profession by making it easy to access and share customizable information. This information is stored in national and international repositories where professionals can access it and use it for making appropriate decisions in their areas of practice (DeNisco & Barker, 2013). Also, the other emerging trend is focusing on big data in the wake of technological advancements such as the smartphone technologies. It is trends such as these that define the future vision of major fields of specialty in the nursing profession.
The need to have more nursing informaticists in the future is quite clear give the significance of big data and advancements in information technology are going to have on the healthcare industry. As such, nursing informatics will be very crucial in understanding, developing, and implementing appropriate strategies based on information technology to improve delivery of personalized patient care (Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O'Grady, 2014). Similarly, nursing administration will change significantly into the future with a greater emphasis on managing big data and integrating information technology into decision making processes. On the other hand, the area of health policy also has a bright future. It will benefit by working closely with the other major fields of informatics and administration in order to ensure a collaborative and inclusive approach in enacting policies that meet the needs of consumers.
DeNisco, S., & Barker, A. M. (2013). Advanced practice nursing: Evolving roles for the transformation of the profession. Burlington, Mass: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Hamric, A. B., Hanson, C. M., Tracy, M. F., & O'Grady, E. T. (2014). Advanced practice nursing: An integrative approach. St. Louis, Missouri : Elsevier/Saunders.
Meleis, A. I. (2011). Theoretical nursing: Development and progress. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Saba, V. K., & McCormick, K. A. (2011). Essentials of nursing informatics. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Sullivan-Marx, E. (2010). Nurse practitioners: The evolution and future of advanced practice. New York: Springer Pub.
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