Use of Information Technology to Improve Patient Safety and Quality of Nursing Care
We are in a great evolution in the way we are gathering data, gaining information, and increasing our knowledge to provide our patients’ with safe quality care. Without information technology (IT) in today’s healthcare industry, it would be impossible to delivery high quality care. The purpose of this paper is to explore data accuracy & safety, data integrity, and the contributions of IT.
Data Accuracy and Safety
One of the biggest obstacles to interoperability among information systems is the vast amount of medical terms used to describe the same concept. One strategy that is being ...view middle of the document...
Patient data found in the electronic health record (EHR) are only as accurate as the person who enters them (Hebda & Czar, 2009). Therefore, education is of utmost importance. The goal of nursing informatics is to improve the health of populations, communities, families, and individuals by optimizing the management of information and communication (American Nurses Association, 2008). Further, the evolving mandate for electronic information systems and increasing complexity of healthcare have raised the bar for nurses. Nurses must know how to use a computer, not just to enter data, but also to process information and gain knowledge & wisdom. Nursing informatics will continue to evolve and new competencies will emerge.
As the demand for healthcare interfaces rises and various internal applications are working to connect with external resources, the protection of data integrity is critical. For example, in some hospital systems it is possible to connect the EHR to radiology’s system to the lab system, etc. According to Hebda & Czar (2009), data integrity is defined as the ability to collect, store and retrieve correct, complete and current data so that the data are available to authorized users as when needed. Data integrity can be compromised by incorrect entry, data tampering, and system failure. Ways to ensure correct entry into computer systems is to verify information at each patient encounter and make sure all who need to know are updated if any changes are made. Initiatives are taking place to help ensure patients privacy and confidentiality and prevent data tampering. Legislation such as the Health Accountability and Portability Act (HIPAA) addresses access to client records. In addition, many systems are incorporating the use of electronic signatures, smart cards, and biometrics. System failures may result in incomplete or lost data. Some hospitals invest in an uninterruptible power supply so that there is no lost information in the lapse between the power going out and the generator kicking in.
Contributions of IT
It contributes to patient safety by increasing access thereby improving communication and delays. For example, EHR’s provide information that is readable, organized, and structured. Caregivers can access patient information whenever it is needed at multiple convenient locations. It helps facilitate comparisons from current data to previous data so that trends can easily be identified. This can help providers make better decisions regarding patient care. For example, we can look at fetal heart rate tracings from the patient’s last...