In the present day, the world has become reliant on technology. Consequently, it is essential for nurses to have information and technology (IT) skills. Health professionals, such as nurses, use IT to deliver care to patients. When applied correctly, IT facilitates the provision of safe care. IT skills are also useful in the decision-making process. Nursing involves making many decisions regarding patient care. IT helps nurses to make informed decisions concerning patient care, which improves patient outcomes. Due to the usefulness of IT in nursing, nurses have a responsibility to learn the necessary technical skills. Nurses should use IT skills to make healthcare-related decisions, provide safe patient care, and improve patient outcomes.
Information and Technology Defined
When applied in healthcare, IT is referred to as health information technology. Health IT involves the use of computers and other electronic devices to store data and retrieve information for health-related purposes. For instance, when a mobile phone is used to track health data, such as heart rate, the device comprises health technology. Another characteristic of health IT is that it involves the use of hardware and software components. Nurses must understand how a device works and how to use it to fully take advantage of the benefits it provides, such as informing their decision-making process. Nevertheless, many advances are made in the field of IT daily, and it is impossible to exhaustively define health IT.
Information and Technology Skills in Patient Care
IT is essential for safe patient care for several reasons. First, IT skills are necessary for safe patient care because they automate mundane tasks associated with human errors. IT automates certain tasks, either in part or in full, that nurses routinely perform. Without IT skills, healthcare professionals are prone to mistakes due to fatigue or even recklessness. Medical error is one of the leading causes of patient death. By automating tasks, IT helps reduce human errors which cause unsafe environments for patients. For instance, monitoring patient vitals using technology can help prevent bacterial infections. Therefore, it is necessary for nurses to have IT skills to provide safe patient care.
Second, IT skills are essential for safe patient care because they facilitate the coordination of care between medical professionals. Without IT skills, healthcare professionals would not be able to work together unless they were physically together. IT allows nurses, physicians, and other healthcare workers to collaborate easily when working on the same case. Consequently, this ensures that the patient receives the best quality of care. Third, IT enables nurses to easily access guidelines about standards of care. Nurses need to have IT skills to look up best practices in care provision. Lastly, these skills facilitate the development of the best standards of practice. For example, healthcare professionals need IT skills to conduct and publish research about practices that should be implemented to ensure patient safety.
Baccalaureate Nurse’s Role
From the foregoing, technology permeates all fields of study and practice. It was inevitable that the healthcare field would be transformed by technology. Due to the pervasiveness of IT in healthcare, nurses must embrace it. In particular, baccalaureate nurses have a duty to increase the adoption of IT in healthcare. Nurses should show hospital managers that IT significantly improves patient care. To do this, they must draw connections between health IT and patient outcomes. Baccalaureate nurses champion the use of IT by showing that health IT improves patient safety and patient outcomes.
Baccalaureate nurses can also champion the use of IT in healthcare facilities by learning and applying these skills. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate to others the effectiveness of health IT is by incorporating these skills into their practice. However, research shows that technology creates a rift between younger and older professionals in healthcare as the latter tend to resist the use of IT in healthcare provision. Baccalaureate nurses must overcome resistance from senior professionals to ensure the widespread adoption of IT. One way to do this is by teaching IT skills to older professionals who may be hesitant to learn these skills online. Lastly, baccalaureate nurses have a role in educating patients on the use of IT. For instance, they could teach patients how to use mobile phones to track their fitness goals. IT benefits everyone, including patients, but only when they possess the required skills.
There are numerous examples of how nurses use technology to make healthcare-related decisions. The first group of examples relates to the use of IT in consultation, which helps in decision-making. Firstly, nurses can use IT to confer with other professionals. Videoconferencing tools such as Zoom have made it possible for healthcare workers to work together remotely. Secondly, nurses can use IT to refer to online scholarly sources, such as nursing manuals and medical journals. For instance, they can quickly confirm the dosage of medicine to administer for an uncommon disease if in doubt. Thirdly, AI robots recommend feedback on issues such as bed management. Nurses can then use information delivered by robots to make the final decisions, in this case, how to allocate beds to patients. Consultation enables nurses to make better decisions pertaining to healthcare provision.
Working With Patients Remotely
Aside from consultation, IT also helps nurses in decision-making by remotely connecting them with patients. This is especially useful for patients who live far from healthcare facilities. Nurses can use IT for virtual communication with their patients. Healthcare professionals need to maintain a relationship with their patients. Additionally, technology can be used to monitor heart rate, blood glucose, respiration, and oxygen levels, which are needed for a nurse to make an informed decision. For instance, technology can be used to check in on patients who have been recently released from the hospital. Nurses can then determine whether or not they need further medical attention. In addition to communicating with patients via electronic devices, nurses can also instruct patients. For instance, a nurse can show a patient how to treat a wound. In general, technology facilitates triage without physical proximity.
Patients in Hospitals
The last group of examples pertains to how nurses use technology within healthcare facilities in decision-making. Perhaps the most common use of technology is electronic health records. These are digitized records showing patient information, including their medical history, diagnoses, and treatment plans. By accessing EHR, nurses can make better-informed decisions on patient care. For instance, these electronic records can provide information about dangerous medication allergies that may not be evident without records. A nurse would then decide which kind of medicine not to administer, thereby averting a crisis. Technology also allows nurses to monitor patient vitals via monitors, wearable watches, and smart beds. They can then use the data obtained from these technologies to make healthcare decisions.
How Quality of Data Affects Patient Care
Despite the usefulness of IT in healthcare, these benefits can only be realized using high-quality data. The quality and integrity of data used by a health technology device affect the quality of patient care delivered to patients. For instance, an EHR showing comprehensive patient details is useful to a nurse, but a system that only has a few details about patients could harm these patients if relied upon to make quick decisions. Data can also lack integrity, which means that it is not accurate or consistent. Data without integrity could reduce patient outcomes. For instance, if nurses use inaccurate data provided by a machine to make a decision, patients could die from the administration of the wrong dosage of medication. Therefore, healthcare professionals should ensure they use high-quality, accurate, and consistent data.
The relationship between the integrity of data used and the effect on the quality of patient care has several healthcare implications. One implication is that nurse informaticists must regularly assess the integrity of the data used in databases. They should also check for programming bugs that corrupt data. For instance, a bug that marks all medical interaction columns with “None,” irrespective of whether or not a patient reacts adversely to the medication, could lead to death. Nurse informaticists should also review how well the implemented tools work. For instance, they can do this by conducting a survey of how patient outcomes have changed since a particular technology was implemented. Finally, they should stay updated on recent changes in technology to update their data and systems as often as necessary.
In conclusion, information technology facilitates the delivery of safe patient care. Nurses can also use IT to make healthcare-related decisions, which improves patient outcomes. Due to the numerous applications of IT in healthcare, nurses should equip themselves with IT skills. They also have the responsibility of championing the use of IT by their senior colleagues. When utilized properly, IT could revolutionize the field of healthcare provision.
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