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Heart Rate or Pulse, Which is it?

Every time I start to try to explain informatics to someone, especially someone in nursing and healthcare, I use the two terms of heart rate and pulse as an initial example. 

At the surface, a nurse or healthcare professional might consider these to be the same thing, just different expressions for what the beats per minute are for one's heart. 

Yet, to someone who is not a nurse or healthcare professional, these are two different words so why would they necessarily mean the same thing? 

This is especially true of those who work on developing health IT systems. Heart rate and pulse are two discrete terms. 

So what is the implication of having two different terms that could mean the same thing? 

The impact of having two different terms that may mean the same thing is that someone, likely someone within a nursing and clinical informatics role, needs to decipher the semantical difference (if any) between these two terms. 

This is a simple example but is one that should have you thinking about clarity in terms that are used for documentation and communication of digital data and information. 

The larger implications reside in how we leverage such digital data within records for interoperability, data exchanges, aggregate use and more. 

So, as you think about some of the data, information, and knowledge needs that you have to care for your patients, make organizational decisions, understand your patient populations, consider what data you really need and if you have access or there are gaps that could be filled....

I'd be curious as to your thoughts and if this has been something you have worked through in your role. 


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