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...
Years ago I was speaking to a nurse in direct care about some of the challenges she saw in documenting in the electronic health record (EHR). She looked at me and told me she felt like a glorified data entry specialist. We talked about what small things might make it better. She shared some thoughts but then said, who would I even go to about this? Who is here to help us make it better?
That memory has sat with me for years. I remember it vividly and it is brought back every time I hear another nurse or healthcare professional discuss something similar.
As a PhD prepared board certified informatics nurse, I've encouraged nurses and healthcare professionals that they have an ability to influence change in the EHR and/or other Health IT solutions. Some of the comments I've received have been:
"I don't even know where to even start."
"Who would I even talk to about my ideas?"
"I don't have an informatics or health IT background."
Informatics nurses and clinical IT...
We, as healthcare professionals and consumers of healthcare, cannot provide quality healthcare to others or to ourselves without data.
Data points are everywhere. Your respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure are just four common data points in healthcare facilities (perhaps even at home).
At home in the day to day, you may be counting your steps, hours of sleep, days per week you are exercising, and many other possibilities.
We would rarely collect these data points without a purpose and intention to use the data for meaningful insights.
An initial set of vital signs may provide a baseline for a patient that could be referred to with each subsequent set of vitals for comparison.
For someone looking to become more active through walking, tracking steps may provide a way to determine progress and plan for how to make adjustments.
Now there are many opportunities to add on to the list of data elements. However,...
A common statement that I hear and have heard over the years when there is a technological issue is...
"I don't understand technology."
This comment usually comes when something is not working quite right. It could be anything from the video call settings (mute/unmute) to entering data into the electronic health record.
When I hear this, I often see the person who said it, start to let the technology win over his/her/their confidence in being able to solve the problem.
However, I believe that if this statement resonates with you, you likely understand technology more than you think you do.
Perhaps it is that there simply is not time available to troubleshoot the issue because patient care is already so demanding of your time.
Let's take printers for example. I do not know what it is about printers but whenever I need something to print in a short period of time, something goes wrong. I either need to put in a new cartridge, install a new driver on...
Whether you are a nurse, physician, patient or family member, informatics impacts us all when it comes to caring for one's health.
Think about that sentence for a minute.
This means that whether you are an expert in the field or this is the first time introduced to the word informatics, there is a place for this science in your life and/or work.
Let me explain.
Consider you are a nurse and you are assigned a new patient. You may want to know the patient's name, date of birth (e.g., age), and a general reason for visit to start. All three of the areas mentioned represent different data elements.
Perhaps you are a patient and requesting an appointment or picking up a prescription. Either of these actions are a result of a healthcare need driven by your own health data.
For physicians, medical orders can only be placed based on the presentation and/or associated results from diagnostic exams, tests, and/or values.
Family members who may be...