This is a useful discussion of the use of Health IT by nurses in a number of organisations. The point made is that while use of Health IT by nurses has started, it still has a good way to go.
By Diana Manos, Senior Editor 12/04/07
According to results of a recent American Academy of Nursing survey, healthcare IT has a long way to go before it fully serves nurses in their environment. Yet some hospitals have already begun trying new ways to make healthcare IT more user-friendly to nurses, increasing the time they can spend with patients.
Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa began by establishing a nursing collaborative group to serve as a liaison between the hospital's IT department and nursing staff, according to Shirley Gusta, IT manager of application services at Genesis.The health system pilots new technology initiatives in one nursing unit prior to launching it facility-wide, whenever possible, Gusta said.
Jamie Allen, telecom supervisor at Genesis said the hospital emphasizes duality of ownership when it comes to IT. "We heavily engage the clinical staff in system selection and when we're building systems in order to meet their needs and we study their business practices," Allen said. "We're trying to learn from them."
In Wilmington, Delaware, Alfred I. duPont Hospital uses wireless devices for communication in cardiac care, according to Lori Betts, nurse manager. Patients wear cardiac monitors that communicate through an IT platform to badges nurses wear.
According to John Antes, president of Progress West Healthcare Center in St.Louis, nurses play a key part in advising the hospital on IT issues and the organization has increasingly looked for ways to provide more mobile technology to its clinicians.
The hospital uses Vocera, a communications product, to eliminate central nurse stations. The product helps nurses communicate hands-free with other nurses, doctors and other departments of the hospital. The units are voice activated so nurses don't have to remember phone numbers, Antes said. Progress West also uses the devices to notify daily assigned code blue teams. "It really has created some nice efficiencies and ease of communication for moving nurses," Antes said.
The hospital also uses bedside clinical electronic documentation, bedside bar-coding of patients and fingerprint notification to allow nurses to log onto several programs quickly. Medication is kept at the bedside in carts along with laptops, Antes said.
The use of effective healthcare IT has contributed to allowing nurses more time at the bedside, Antes said. "If you walk our floors, most of the nurses are in patients' rooms."
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I thought this article was worth pointing out – as a useful peg to remind us all just how important nursing staff are in all Health IT planning and implementations in the Hospital sector and progressively in the ambulatory sector as the numbers of practice nurses and physician assistants increase.
A wise old Health IT implementer made the point to me years ago that while it could make life difficult implementing systems if the doctors were off side – if the nurses were off side it was time to pack up and leave the field.
Key, to success, I believe, is to identify both nursing and clinical champions very early in the planning for new systems and to involve these people all the way through the requirements development, procurement and implementation phases.
The bottom line is that if you ‘ignore the nurses’ it is highly likely any substantial Hospital Health IT initiative will fail!
You have been warned!