The Effects of Health Information Technology on the Nursing Practice

Introduction

It won’t be an exaggeration to call this century the “age of the computer.” We are residing in a world where machines and technology have automated everything. From our banks and schools to our aviation and transport systems, every department applies modern technology.

Human beings can’t fathom a planet without science and industrialization. Our children grow more immersed in technology than their parents ever were. You have to submit to digitization if you want to survive in your profession.

And the nursing institution is no exception to that. Gone are the days of handwritten notes and hurriedly-scribbled journals. The age of chart-making and form-filling is finally over. Documentation has revolutionized the nursing profession. All this thanks to nursing informatics.

The field of informatics was developed for better communication among registered nurses (RNs), physicians, and patients. It combines the art of nursing with analytical science and information technology.

Health information technology (HIT) involves efficient storage and transmission of medical information. Hospital computers have patient records and their profiles. Electronic health records (EHRs) contain a patient’s complete medical history. Such methods make it easier for a West Coast hospital to provide quick medical care to a patient in Brooklyn.

In the 21st century, nurses can have a promising future in the field of informatics. Many colleges and universities offer multiple courses in HIT. It’s quite easy to learn more about such opportunities online.

Since the Bush administration, nurses have been feeling mixed emotions regarding HIT. Let’s hear them out, shall we?

A generally positive review

There’s no doubt that health information technology has its own undeniable merits. It’s less costly and more efficient. How many of you won’t prefer typed documents over handwritten ones? Generation Alpha has probably forgotten how to use a pen. Via computers, HIT guarantees reliable communication between patients and the hospital staff. Patient records are available regardless of the distance between him/her and the doctor. There is no need for the deceased to take the same test again and again. The initial test results can be useful throughout God’s green earth. Therefore, it’s no surprise when most RN staff view HIT as good for the nursing practice. A LinkedIn survey conducted in February 2018 found that 82% of nurses were happy about informatics. Others were concerned about the loss of “the human element,” which leads us to the next issue.

The human element

Most Yankee business people like to do face-to-face deals. They do not rely on technology and miss the good old human contact of the 20th century. The same goes for some of the RN staff. They care about the lack of human touch and direct patient care. Old-school nurses still desire to see “the human element” in the sacred institution of medicine. They tend to build a personal relationship with patients and their families. Being by the sick one’s bedside and comforting him/her is still a huge deal. But we can see that, over time, all nurses will learn to adapt to modern technology.

Baby boomers feel left behind!

We can encourage millennials and Gen Xers to adopt nursing via health information technology. They are attracted to tech like moths to the flame. But the real problem is with baby boomers (born circa 1946-65). As estimated, baby boomers made up 50% of the American RN staff. In 2013, 55 to 59 was the highest age group among nurses. Boomers are often cynical of technology. They find it challenging to integrate with a rapid surge of scientific advancement. That’s why most nurses have a hard time adapting to HIT. It often forces them to retire instead of keeping up with nursing informatics.

No chance of human error

Health information technology leaves less chance for mistakes in patients’ records. The success of its high-quality digital healthcare showed the significance of nursing informatics. Not only data accessibility becomes convenient, but there is also less margin of error in medical documents. Telehealth (remote patient care) isn’t just a commodity now in the civilized world. It lessens the chances of burnout among nurses by reducing the workload. Less delay in healthcare makes hospitals perform well. Industrial automation has also helped the RN staff in managing their patients. IV drips can be automated with the help of HIT. Now nurses cannot accidentally give the wrong amount of dosage to their patients. The human mind cannot match the data processing capabilities of a computer. Therefore, HIT has positively affected nursing practice worldwide.

Robot nurses?

Elon Musk isn’t the only guy who is afraid of AI taking over the planet. Many people think that Artificial Intelligence will cause massive unemployment in the world. The concept of nano-doctors that can dive inside a human brain to operate doesn’t sound like fiction anymore. In Japan, they are developing robot nurses to replace human ones. This mechanical RN staff doesn’t get cranky, tired, or chatty. But human nurses are fearful of losing their jobs if everything starts getting automated. These sentiments have negatively affected the nursing practice. Again, these robot nurses lack “the human element.” Being nursed by them is like having a robot as your therapist. Patients crave for nurses with human emotions. They need someone with empathy, not a soulless husk of metal with a powerful CPU inside.

Conclusion

Health information technology is the likely future of the nursing profession. A digital transformation is already underway in the world.

This transition would profit the hospitals from these latest technical advances in medicine. The losses of HIT are temporary and individual, but its advantages are global and long-lasting.

The nursing profession will soon learn to adapt itself to modern requirements, as all other institutions did. That way, the qualities of nursing informatics will outshine its drawbacks.

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