By: Robin Hoover, RN, MSN-HCI, Clinical Informaticist, Merit Health River Region and Susan A. Matney, MSN, RN-C, PhD, FAAN, Medical Informaticist, HDD Team, 3M Health Information Systems
A patient walks into the clinician’s office and the clinician reviews the patient’s medical history and current medication that is in the electronic health record (EHR) with him. The patient’s daughter is a nurse and he wonders how nurses are involved in these new EHRs.
Hospitals and physician offices are transitioning from paper charts to EHRs as a result of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. In order for adoption to take place there needs to be nurses who understand the clinical workflow as well as the language of computers. Informatics Nurses fill that role.
- Are bilingual in that they are able to speak clinical and computer language and translate as needed
- Assist in the analysis, development, and testing of applications used within an EHR
- Provide initial support and training during the implementation of the electronic health record (EHR) as well as clinical and technical support to the staff as needed post go-live
- They also act as a liaison between all departments and the vendor
- Increase the accuracy and completeness of nursing documentation
- Design the documentation to fit the nursing process
- Facilitate analysis of clinical data
- Provides patient care data in a standardized language
- Analyze clinical data for performance improvement initiatives
- Improves access to training and educational materials
- Improves and enhances the continuity of care
- Improve relationships between providers and recipients of health care
- Promotes research through data mining
Nurse informaticists have additional training in the above areas in addition to their nursing degrees. They are either board certified and/or have advanced degrees. We are proud to say this emerging specialty is supported by the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community, representing over 6,000 nurses.
So to answer the patient’s question regarding how nurses are involved: end-users need the support of nurses who understand the clinical aspects of patient-centered care as well as how the EHR captures the data and can be customized to fit the correct workflow for all clinicians. Without informatics nurses, end-users would have no advocate to turn to for the support they need to make such a major transition and patients could not have retrievable, sharable, comparable data within the EHR.
We hope you join us in celebrating National Nurses Week and honor your fellow nurses during this week.