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Health informatics: where are the nurses?

MORE NURSES need to be encouraged into health informatics--the use of technology to plan, evaluate and deliver health care--to "future proof" the profession and ensure the nursing voice is heard.

This was the message nurse leaders and informatics experts gave to the more than 130 nurses who attended the national nursing informatics conference in Christchurch in October. This was the first informatics conference to be hosted by Nurse Executives of New Zealand (NENZ) and Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ). HiNZ support included registration costs for 30 nurses in an effort to boost access.

The theme Nursing but not as you know it reflected a changing world where nurses must play an increasing role in the use and development of electronic information systems.

Opening the conference, NENZ chair Denise Kivell called for nurses to take up the challenge and get engaged in health informatics.

The conference reflected the diverse discipline of health informatics, with topics including developing capacity in the workforce, how IT can change care delivery, the importance of using structured nursing data, and how the electronic health record is bringing the voice of nursing practice into policy and research.

Technology systems that support practice were shared, including Plunket's digital health record system "ePHR", Nurse Maude's EHR and the Maternity Clinical Information System. This allows a range of health professionals to share a woman's clinical and maternity history. From telehealth--the use of telecommunications in health care--apps, wearable and ingestible devices, to digital hospitals and mobile devices, the presenters provided a rich and diverse experience.

HiNZ chief executive Kim Mundell asked where all the nurses in health informatics were. Where was the next generation? As the main users of health information systems, nurses should have a strong influence in their design, develop their IT vocabulary and keep the needs of nursing in the spotlight. There also needed to be a better link between technology and clinical outcomes--and nurses had the skills to help interpret this, she said.

American nursing professor Karen Monsen suggested a shared language of internationally-recognised terms could give nurses a way to communicate locally and globally. Articulating care outcomes enabled nurses to learn more from practice-based evidence.

Monsen demonstrated how the Omaha system of health information sharing in the United States was used to inform policy and funding decisions by providing a means to articulate the interventions and outcomes of care.

Microsoft's director of health and social services for Asia, Gabe Rijpma, provided a global view of advancements in technology. These included care without walls, the "internet of things"--physical objects communicating between themselves--and disruptive technologies--those predicted to transform current methods. AIL these developments were moving forward rapidly. Rijpma told us the technology already existed and it was not the barrier to improving care--health care's adoption and use of it was. We will soon have facial recognition instead of user names and passwords--science fiction becomes science fact with Windows Hello software.

Summing up the day, Office of the Chief Nurse principal adviser Paul Watson reminded delegates that nursing could help ensure the advantages and opportunities of technology enhanced the patient experience, rather than broadened the digital divide.

Report by Nurse Maude director of nursin-Sheree East.

Informatics workshops

NZNO AND HiNZ are hosting three health informatics workshops this year; two in Hamilton (in collaboration with Waikato District Health Board) on May 23 (one morning, one evening session) and one in Auckland on July 21. See nz/healthinformatics or contact for details.

HiNZ also offers free workshops for health professionals new to health informatics. See for details.
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Title Annotation:section & college news
Author:East, Sheree
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Feb 1, 2016
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