An article posted earlier this month on FierceHealthIT highlights an important movement happening in healthcare IT: the increasing role of nurses in IT.
Titled "The rise of nurses in health IT", the article reports on the role that nurses are having in Healthcare IT leadership roles ("Nursing Informatics") across the country. Among the sources cited is a recent HIMSS survey of Nursing Informatics that provides insights into the demographics that make up this group of nurse IT leaders. 80% of the nurses surveyed by HIMSS had been in an IT role for less than 5 years and 88% had 6 or more years of clinical experience before moving into Healthcare IT.
As hospitals continue to transition to data driven organizations, the nurses' role in Healthcare IT will become increasingly important. Today, many hospitals suffer from lack of visibility into their organizations because the right data is simply not available. While increasing use of connected devices has started to fill some holes, more attention should be given to the role that individual nurses could play in providing important data feeds if they were provided with the right technology to do so. As the front-line of healthcare, nurses currently generate a large amount of the data that is needed to feed clinical and operational models. They see first-hand how patients are feeling, how long they are waiting, what their satisfaction levels are, etc. Much of this data is lost because the systems to translate it into a digital form simply don't exist. As a result potential insights into new processes and procedures that could impact positive change are lost when they leave the hospital each day.
Our experience as nurses has been that technology systems in the hospital have not been designed with nurses, in mind. Many times there is resistance to adoption of new technology solutions because they are too difficult to use. Often times these systems try to do too much, and the potential value is lost amongst a vast sea of features. As with the most successful consumer technologies, simplicity is beauty and adoption relies on providing only what is needed in an intuitive user interface.
As more nurses move into IT leadership roles, we hope that they will start to consider not only how to implement changes from the top-down, but also how to empower their former colleagues in the clinical setting to contribute to overall data and Healthcare IT strategy in a more meaningful way. Inefficiencies in the hospital don't benefit any stakeholders. To truly make the system better we need more insight into what is happening at the clinical delivery layer. Big Data technologies can't solve problems when no data is available to analyze. The future design of healthcare systems should follow the consumer technology path - simple user interface that collects the right data and provides value back to the user. We hope our Nursing Informatics leaders will reach this same conclusion and set a higher standard for systems across healthcare.