Nursing informatics is a major component of modern healthcare. It is not unusual to see nurses in healthcare settings using computers, smartphones and electronic devices to search for information. In an RN to BSN program, nurses gain extensive knowledge about the ethical concerns and financial savings associated with this new way of documenting and transmitting confidential patient data.
What Is Nursing Informatics?
Nursing informatics integrates the sciences of medicine and analytics to identify, manage, track, and send knowledge and information. It is used by nurses, physicians, patients and other healthcare professionals to enter, share and obtain the following:
- Care protocols
- Communication between healthcare team members
- Diagnostic test results
- Evidence-based research
- Financial reports
- Medical news
- Nursing notes
- Patient health histories
What Types of Systems Have Evolved From Nursing Informatics?
Nursing informatics has developed medical data and systems to support the nursing practice. Two types of systems that have evolved from nursing informatics are Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) and Electronic Health Record (EHR).
How Is Patient Information Protected?
All nurses have an ethical and legal responsibility to protect the privacy of their patients.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) supports policies and legislation that uphold standards for protecting patient information.
For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 establishes privacy guidelines for protection against fraud and the abuse of health information, while allowing the proper individuals to have access to it.
What Are the Ethical Complications Connected to Nursing Informatics?
EHRs are replacing paper documents. Hard copies of patient information can be misplaced or lost, thus exposing sensitive information to unauthorized personnel.
But, nursing informatics also has drawbacks because it may create ethical dilemmas for nurses.
Data breaches can occur if information is not secured, or if it is misused. Violations of privacy laws and regulations may include:
- Failing to log off a computer when not in use.
- Illegally accessing patient files.
- Lending passwords or access codes.
- Losing electronic devices.
- Not shredding printouts with private info.
- Texting patient information.
Can Informatics Save Hospitals Money?
Nursing informatics can save hospitals money because it facilitates the flow of information. Moreover, nursing informatics cuts down on waste and boosts efficiency by preventing repeat procedures and reducing the occurrence of medical and medication errors.
With the use of informatics, information is sent quickly so nurses can make clinical decisions faster without having to wait for vital lab results or finding time to collaborate with team members. All of these factors result in cost savings for hospitals, not to mention improved patient care.
How Does Nursing Informatics Help Patients?
Information that is readily available to nurses may save patients from having to answer the same questions repeatedly. Collaboration is also expedited because healthcare team members can instantly retrieve information from wherever they are and quickly respond to and advise nurses.
Patients can view their own EHRs. This enables patients to gain an understanding of their condition and become a part of the healing process. Patients are likely to follow medication instructions and stay alert to changes in their health if they are educated about their diagnosis and prognosis. When patients have knowledge about their medical status, they may feel empowered, which can aid in increasing the chances of a positive outcome.
Does St. Thomas University (STU) Offer a Nursing Informatics Course?
Yes! STU offers the course Nursing Informatics to students enrolled in its online RN to BSN program. In the course, students receive an overview of nursing informatics and explore how it improves information management in healthcare. They also examine the ethical and financial aspects of nursing informatics and how it impacts patient outcomes.
Technology continues to transform nursing. While there are many advantages to utilizing nursing informatics, nurses must be careful about the way they handle patient information. Patients have a right to expect that their data and health information is correctly secured and used. Nurses should always follow state and federal regulations as well as their healthcare organization's policies to take the necessary steps to safeguard a patient's privacy.
Learn more about St. Thomas University's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:HIMSS: What Is Nursing Informatics?
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