Nurses play multiple roles with regard to the informatics that supports healthcare. These roles differ depending on their position and their skills and knowledge base. Informatics includes “the use of information and technology to communicate, manage knowledge, mitigate error, and support decision making” (Masters, 2015, 306). This can be illustrated with regard to Helen, a new graduate of nursing school; Paul, a registered nurse in the neurosurgery unit with ten years of experience who provides direct patient care; and Lisa, a nurse manager responsible for nursing operations. Each has complementary responsibilities that ensure the systems can benefit patient care in nursing.
Helen has recently become a nurse and been hired to work in the medical nursing unit. Helen uses informatics in her work, and most of her responsibilities currently are input. Her responsibilities include becoming a competent user of the many informatics systems which are used at the hospital. Such systems might include a bar code medication administration (BCMA) system, electronic medical records (EMR). She also accesses information such as the scheduling system to see when she is working. As a recent graduate she is also aware of the more technical aspects of informatics, including the research which uses the data from the systems. For this reason she always ensures the information she enters is accurate, as this will benefit the data which is used as evidence for research which can innovate on current practices.
Paul, the RN who has significant experience and works in the neurosurgery unit, also chairs the unit’s nursing council to improve patient care. Paul may therefore be interested in researching and communicating to the council recent findings in nursing research so that the latest evidence can be implemented in practice. Paul also uses informatics when he implements best practices in relation to the many technologies in the neurosurgery unit. In order to ensure patient safety while the surgeon is using the microscope, various machines and informatics based techniques assist the scrub nurse to maintain situational awareness while assisting with surgery (Afkari, Bednarik, Mäkelä & Eivazi, 2016). As with Helen, Paul must be trained and competent in the use of nursing informatics systems which administrate day to day operations, including reporting for the patient’s EMR and BCMA. Because of his position as chair of the patient safety council for his unit Paul also has informatics responsibilities in relation to reviewing the work of others which is often based in data as well as determining design of data capture for inquiries relating to patient safety.
Lisa, the nurse manager, leads the intensive care units and this includes multiple roles in relation to informatics. Lisa has responsibility for ensuring that informatics systems are working properly. This includes ensuring that new recruits and staff are trained in and competent in the use of these systems. Lisa also uses informatics to research information relating to questions for other health care professionals or to provide excellence in operations and the provision of patient care (Collins, 2014). She uses informatics in order to schedule staff and determine budgetary considerations relating to human resources (Collins, 2014). This may involve the use of research and calculations by Lisa or her staff, but it likely also includes the use of business intelligence systems (Collins, 2014).
Just like nursing itself, there are multiple and different roles that must be carried out with regard to informatics in nursing. There are responsibilities that all nurses share, such as ensuring competency through training before using systems, input of information and how and why to access information in informatics systems. There are also specialized systems in each area and various responsibilities for nurses who work in those areas.