Nurses Must Embrace IT

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Nurses need to be involved in the design and implementation of new technology in the workplace, according to speakers at the NSWNA Professional Day.

By 1 July next year, the frameworks underpinning the national e-health system will be in place, according to Peter Fleming, CEO of the National E-Health Transition Authority.

Its aim is to connect systems so medical practitioners can send and receive information easily.

nurses at the desk

‘Pilots are taking place in regards to secure messaging between the Northern Territory and South Australia at the moment, and IBM has the contract to create the authentication system,’ said Peter.

When asked how the rollout of the e-health system would affect nurses, he said it would change the information nurses will have available as well as impacting on workloads.

‘We are putting in place partners to map out the workflow issues for nurses.’

Peter allayed one delegate’s fears that money for the new system would put additional pressure on local healthcare budgets.

‘There has been substantial provision of funds for e-health – around $880 million from the Federal Government and COAG combined. We’re not looking to put pressure on local healthcare budgets,’ he said.

Make technology work for you

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at NSW Health, Debra Thoms said Nurses need to overcome their barriers of scepticism when it comes to IT and start collecting and analysing patient data.

‘Analysing data enables nurses to make decisions on patient care,’ she said.

In addition to being involved in the process of the design of the IT systems at healthcare facilities, nurses must also be trained in IT skills.

‘Anecdotally, IT training is low. We need greater investment in education and training. Younger nurses coming into the profession will expect good IT systems and if they are not in place, this may impact retention,’ said Debra.

However, nurses should not become so dependent on technology that they start to mistrust their own judgement, she warned.

‘Simulation and virtual technology are complementary to bedside care.’

Do you think some newer nurses are too dependent on technology? Or are older/more experienced nurses not using it enough?

Where is the happy medium?

Image credit: NSWNA

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I am all for embracing technology at work. I am over an archaic hospital system. Bringing in IT into the hospital has nothing to do with losing your knowledge or clinical judgment skills, like visualisation of your patient, auscultation, palpation etc. It is about having information at hand and being SAFE.
    I think it will be great if we can use tablets like an ipad that is wirelessly connected to the CIS program, so we all have access to the patient’s files, rather than fighting over it with other people who want to write in it.
    It will improve communication betwen departments and staff, and therefore safety, as mistakes happen more often than not due to miscommunication. We don’t have to decipher disgusting hand writing. Nurses can sign off meds and access CIAP or MIMS without looking for the book (with missing pages). They can look up the patient’s condition and what to look out for. They can also pick up on anything that was missed in handover with the patient summaries, or using the “find” button to scroll through notes for key words.
    The pharmacy can almost immediately site medications for the nurses from their departmental computers, and check for adverse drug interactions. We don’t have to pull doctors out of their rounds to write up an overdue warfarin tablet, insulin etc. as it can all be done on their computer.
    We can also access radiology files and look at the patient’s x-ray or CT scan, or any formal reports written by the radiologist.
    Digital pictures of wounds can also be uploaded onto the patients file to see the progress of the healing, especially good if you have no idea what it looked like before.
    It is fantastic.

  2. The greatest barrier to the more effective use of IT systems is the ineqquity that exists in access to technology. There are too few work stations and medical or allied health staff seem to take priority in using them. Then there is the problem of access to the range of technology. I have seen medical staff at work using their work granted internet access to book holidays, check share portfolios etc while nurses cannot even access the NSW Health site fully without a login which they don’t have.
    Why would you bother updating IT skills when you perceive exclusion from the benefits? And don’t even get me started on the user unfriendly programs that we have to use, like EMR or EDRS.

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