Nursing informatics (NI) is a nursing practice discipline that incorporates computer science and information technology in managing and communicating information data and knowledge (Ball 2011).
Informatics nurses act as the link between nursing and information systems department. NI supports the nurses patients and consumers amongst other providers in making decisions in all roles and settings. Therefore nurse informatics play crucial roles in the nursing practice. In the first place nurse informatics plays administrative and management role. In this role they contribute to the decision making process concerning medical information systems. Secondly informatics nurses are involved in the medical system integration. Nursing practice and health care system at large requires integration of new systems based on new technologies. This is highly encouraged to improve the effectiveness of the existing systems. Additionally information systems are comprised of people structures automated tools processes and manuals used for collecting storing interpreting transforming and reporting medical information. Integration of such a system includes various stages such as analysis selection designing implementation and optimization (Masters 2009).
This role is aimed at improving quality and delivery of health care as well as patient safety among other aspects. This is primarily achieved through automated documentation of medical information. Automated documentation enhances the accurate collection of medical information and reuse too. This helps to eliminate redundancy in documentation. In addition informatics nurses come up with recommendations for improving the nursing practice. In this respect they are involved in a consulting role. Furthermore nurse informaticists are instrumental in the educational development of the nursing fraternity. Here they educate and train nurses on how to use the new technologies effectively in handling medical information.
Another major role of informatics nurses is workflow analysis. Workflow analysis is one of the most significant analysis roles of nurse informatics. Workflow analysis targets to enhance the proper and appropriate display of medical information processes and programs according to nurses activities. Furthermore informatics nurses are deeply involved in research and evaluation about health care. The primary goal of nursing informatics lies in improving health care of populations communities families as well as individuals through information management. This regards the use of technology establishment of administrative systems and the delivery of education in the provision of health care. The mentioned tasks require massive nursing research and evaluation to accomplish (McGonigle & Mastrian 2012).
Besides the role of nurse informatics informatics nurse are of much benefit to the nursing practice particularly with less skilled nurses. According to the nursing objectives it is a requirement for nurses to have high standards of education and training (Bonnel & Smith 2010). However the emerging new technologies have made nurses significantly ineffective. Nurse informatics provides an improved platform for educating and training nurses hence complementing nurses with this requirement. In addition informatics nurses would ensure improved information system and data collection. This will promote effective policy making and workforce planning amongst nurses. Lastly patients safety and delivery of quality health care would be enhanced. Accurate and reliable information will be collected stored and submitted to other departments like medication.
Computers and information technology is widely used in the nursing practice. One of the major areas it is employed is in medication administration. Barcode medication administration (BCMA) is amongst the technologies used in medical administration (Bak & Stair 2011). Medication administration involves five stages. These include right patient right medication right dose right route and right timing. Errors related to medication are frequent and a major cause of adverse medical effects. Studies have revealed that close to about 100000 deaths and over million injuries are attributed to these medical errors. Therefore these medical errors are much more costly. Barcode medical administration system has helped to improve the situation by automating medication process and making medical records electronic. There had been a successful reduction of the medication errors after implementation of this system. The previous used systems like the computerized physician order entry were unable to overcome these errors comprehensively. Most of these errors occur during administration dispensing and transcribing stages of medication. BCMA technology does not consist of simple tools. Therefore its implementation in a new environment is not easy. Its implementation requires vital changes that are associated with integration of new technologies. These include policy changes social as well as cultural changes (Ciampa & Revels 2012).
Relative to policy changes BCMA implementation requires modification of policies concerning administering of medication and identification of patients. As far as workload is concerned BCMA triggered workload increment for the pharmacy staff and not the nurses. This was attributed to additional roles of BCMA system Barcoding and labeling of medication. As expected nurses faced difficulties with the BCMA which diminished after they became acclimated to it. Nevertheless its introduction has a substantial impact on health care systems. The BMCA enhances communication between the nursing and the medical employees (Dumitru 2009). Effective communication leads to improved relationships amongst the staff. In turn this facilitates better planning and implementation of processes thus preventing challenges. The BCMA system enhanced ability to monitor and evaluate medication administration. This provided all relevant information regarding medical information to avoid any challenges. For example it showed the information when the medication was scanned. The majority of nurse avoided scanning of medication due to its complexity. Another source of medication errors was found to be poor timing of delivery (Lundy & Janes 2009).