Informatics can beloosely defined as the creation and use of systems that perform the followingtasks:1.
Collect information2. Analyze the information to gather useful insights3. Distribute the information and insights Thus, nursing informatics isthe use of such systems in the context of nursing, and the most common exampleof this is modern medication administration. The Pyxis and EHR systems usedtoday allow an individual nurse to dispense hundreds of doses of medication ina single shift, and have safeguards to prevent errors that could be harmful oreven lethal to patients.
An example of this system:1. A nurse takes a blood pressure reading and enters that number into the EHR(collecting information).2. A different nurse enters a blood pressure medication in the MAR (collectinga second piece of information).3. The EHR analyzes this information and realizes that the medication iscontraindicated due to the patient’s last BP reading (gathering a usefulinsight). 4.
A warning box pops us advising the secondnurse to hold the medication (distributing the useful insight). This type of system wasn’tnecessary or technically feasible a few decades ago, but due to the rapidadvancement of medicine and medical technology it is now an essential part ofour healthcare system. Recognizing the importance of this type of system, theneed for nurses to understand and use such systems is clear. We can’t safely doour jobs without them.
As we all know, we’re not theonly medical professionals who rely on informatics in our daily roles. When werefer to evidence-based practice, we’re really referring to informatics. Everystudy or trial done in the last few decades uses informatics to collect andanalyze information and gather insights. If the insights are especially usefulor important, they may be distributed to the medical community as newguidelines, protocols, or drugs. At the end of the day modernmedicine is really just a global informatics machine, gathering and analyzingunfathomable amounts of information and spitting out insights faster than wemere mortals can comprehend, and it’s only by recognizing this and looking atthe big picture can we see this machine and our roles inside it. Hopefully thiscan help us get through the hours of daily charting that lay ahead of us,knowing this most tedious of tasks is the bedrock upon which modern medicinerests.