A report from the Nursing Informatics conference

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Guest post by Phil Shields: Nursing Informaticians: the key to your healthcare future was a one-day conference held in Sydney on July 30. Phil, who’s a PhD candidate in nursing informatics, sent us this report.

The national e-health conference (HIC 2012) was held at the Sydney Convention Centre at the beginning of this month. Nursing informatics is a sub-speciality of clinical informatics – it’s the study of nursing information and clinical communications. Its tools of trade are terminology and communication systems, but they are a means to an end, that is, to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. Nursing Informatics Australia celebrated its 21st year on the first day of the conference and yes, there was cake!

The really exciting thing about nursing informatics is that nursing researchers are at the forefront of studies that capture data describing what nurses do to ensure positive patient outcomes.  The one-day nursing informatics component of the conference was essentially about capturing data in a reliable, valid and measurable way for the patient’s benefit. When you think about it, that is the business of nursing.

The first keynote speaker Paula Procter, reader in informatics from Sheffield Hallam University in England, struck a chord with the audience as she spoke of not losing sight of the basic nursing tenets, including good care and patient needs, while nursing embraces technology.

The Moya Conrick Award for best presentation went to Livio Ciacciarelli from South Australia who spoke of his hospital’s introduction of a clinical practice support system (CPS). The CPS brings support, assessment and care planning to the bedside.

Interestingly, conference attendees were told mobile social media, particularly Twitter was encouraged. We were asked to “please keep our silent tablets, laptops and phones on”, a definite change from most gatherings, I think you’d agree.  It was interesting to see the Twitter conversation ticking away rather like a subtext as the talks unfolded. The conference kept my inner nerd and nurse engaged, definitely not an easy job!

The bottom line is that nursing informatics will grow exponentially in the future as patients, nurses, hospitals and governments require more accurate information.

Nurses are at the coalface of patient care and are ideally placed to become technology interpreters, innovators and system designers. The nursing components in conferences like HIC 2012 are a good beginning.

Image credit: http://gelblogs.wordpress.com

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