Information technology has been described as the utilization of computers and telecommunication systems for storing, retrieving, and sending information. Healthcare systems have utilized information technology to restructure their organization for numerous years. The subject of information technology has become of such importance that it has morphed into an independent study. This field of study is commonly known as NI. Nursing Informatics (NI) consolidates nursing theory amidst multiple information management systems and analytical sciences utilized to analyze, illustrate, regulate, and publicize statistics, instructions, knowledge, and wisdom within the nursing field (Hughes). Healthcare professionals knowledgeable within this area have worked successfully to improve patient care while simultaneously integrating new tools that have resulted in superior training and staff development processes. Consequently, many aspects of nursing have been enhanced as a result of the new field. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of NI and how the data’s integrity impacts patient safety.
Currently, numerous strategies can be utilized to ensure the accuracy and security of data entered into the systems used by nurses. These strategies are essential because they protect the staff and the patients from unnecessary error. Correct data entry assures the integrity of data which is vital in the healthcare settings. Not verifying inputted information can result in dire consequence. For example, medication errors have resulted in numerous deaths within the healthcare field. These issues are significant because they cost health care systems billions of dollars each year (Maddox, Flynn, Will, & Seibert, 2014). Maddox et al. (2014) estimate that approximately one medication error per hospitalized patient occurs daily. According to the previously mentioned, an estimated 450,000 medication errors occur annually; however, roughly 25% were preventable if proper measures were implemented. Consequently, various technologies have been introduced to help improve the accuracy of nursing professionals.
One example of technological improvement includes automated processes. Automating systems combined with coworkers verifying inputted information reduces the probability of error. Likewise, utilizing electronic health records as a documentation source allows data to remain a useful tool for health care professionals. Another benefit relates directly to medication administration. Some advancements are automatic apportion containers, programmable order entry, “smart” I.V. mixture pumps, and barcode-assisted medication administration systems (Brown, 2005). Using the technologies above significantly improves patient care while assuring the accuracy and integrity of the data.
Integrity is pertinent to the accuracy of inputted information. The aforementioned is relevant to information governance, patient identification, and maintaining validity when submitting reimbursement claims (Lavin, Harper, & Barr, 2015). Many medical institutions have utilized customizable documentation applications to assist with accuracy. All established policies and procedures function as an audit to assure the organization remains compliant with federal and state regulations. Neglecting to put proper safeguards in place could reflect poorly on the organization. Any omissions or errors within a document may provide a false image of a patient’s status. If this occurs, then the organization becomes liable for any incident that occurs as a result of the negligence. It is essential that nurses know the importance of reviewing and editing all pertinent information to assure that only patient-specific information is recorded during each session, while all irrelevant data remains disregarded.
Health care delivery depends primarily on acquiring and disseminating information. In fact, all nursing decisions must rely on the knowledge which is documented within the medical systems. Informatics contributes to nursing by connecting the art of healing to the science of technology. NI focuses particularly on improving and utilizing applicable solutions for the administration and transmission of health information concerned with inspiring improved quality of care. There are numerous examples of the effectiveness of NI systems. These examples include electronic drug-interaction tools, electronic laboratory and test results reporting, patient portals for communication and education purposes (Brown, 2005).
As a consequence of information technology systems being utilized globally as a method to advance patient safety, claims regarding medical neglect have reduced tremendously. One report reveals how using the electronic reporting structure has lead to a reduction of adverse drug incidents by over 250 %. Additionally, the study showed how the price of data acquisition has lowered by $30,000 yearly. Utilizing implemented reporting systems by health care professionals have reduced numerous medication errors before costly consequence. The aforementioned has occurred in a timely and cost-effective manner which has benefitted many healthcare institutions.
Information Technology is an important subject. It is of such importance that the World Health Organization (WHO) has created a subsidiary to explore the role of Information Technology (IT) in developing patient safety within health care (Huckvale, et al., 2010). The issues pertinent to data quality, patient safety, and access to health care are very relevant to NI and the usage of information technology. They are important because wrong information negatively affects patient outcome. Currently, there are numerous strategies utilized by professionals to ensure the accuracy and safety of data entered; however, the process has not become standard across the country. Implementing strategies to protect patients and to reduce probability should be the focus of every medical organization. Likewise, validating information is essential because it protects the staff and patients from unnecessary errors, injuries, and lawsuits.