Transforming Nursing and Healthcare through Information Technology
The adoption of the electronic health records (EHRs) is just one example of how the advancements in technology have impacted the health care continuum among other fields. The EHRs’ design and implementation has in many ways met the initial goal of improving the quality of care provided to the patients and their families while enhancing the efficiency of the providers (Hunt, Sproat & Kitzmiller, 2013). Indeed, this goal was so significant that the federal government enacted the HITECH Act to ensure that a proper legal framework for the proper utilization of technology by the health care facilities is in place (Friedman, Parrish & Ross, 2013). Nurses play a critical role in the outcomes of a patient’s health care. An effective patient care is one that efficiently collects information about the patient while improving the accuracy of the said data. This data is then analyzed to arrive at a positive diagnosis, treatment, hospitalization and discharge.
An effectively designed information system affords the care providers an easy flow of information that is vital for the efficient process of documentation (Middleton et al., 2013). Another critical aspect of effective patient care revolves around the safety of the patients and the providers. Informatics plays an important role in ensuring this safety is achieved. The evolution of electronic documentation has seen the provision of the plan of care for patients included. Besides, technology enables effective communication between the patients, clinicians and other professionals which together improve the quality of care for the patients (Hunt et al., 2013).
Successful implementation of change and technology in an organisation is not an easy task. It requires that the nurse leaders acquire important skills to ensure that all staffs in the facility relate to the change. Besides, strong leadership, the involvement of the staff that will use the technology in the design and execution, mandatory staff training influence the success of change acceptance. The leadership must develop guidelines that ensure strict adherence to timelines and budget (Huber, 2013). The nurses, therefore, stand at a vantage point as they can readily serve as agents of change in the adoption of the new EHRs. As a nurse facilitator entrusted with the responsibility of preparing for the implementation of the new system in the Hospital in New York, I will utilize the 5 qualities presented by Everett Rodgers (2003) to diffuse any resistance from the nurses, prepare them for the implementation and deploy them as the agents of change.
Rogers (2010) considers the first quality of diffusion innovation as relative advantage. The underlying assumption of this quality is that the new technology has unique qualities make the new system a better option than the previous state (Rogers, 2010). The use of EHRs has provided the much needed efficiency in storing and retrieving health records of patients as opposed to the previously used traditional methods of book keeping (Middleton et al., 2013). It has been established that the number of inpatients deaths has significantly reduced, in addition to decreasing readmission rates and increase in the number of patients served in health care facilities with the use of EHRs (Friedman et al., 2013). Evidently, the new system will not only provide efficiency to the employees, but also help improve the health outcomes of the patients.
The second quality considered by Rogers (2010) in his diffusion of innovations theory relates to issues of compatibility of the new system into the existing practice and value system of the institution. One of the most significant aspects of our healthcare system is the security of the healthcare records of the patients. Indeed, it is the responsibility of all care providers to safeguard the health information of the patients (Rogers, 2010). The new system will work within the same policy of securing critical data and has a detailed data protection mechanism that will ensure that the clients’ information is not readily accessed through hacking or on the public websites. Besides, the system shall be subject to periodical risk assessment to evaluate if it has acquired any risks through conducting internal and external audits. This is a practice that we have always conducted with our previous systems and is well enshrined in our policy.
It is also important to note that the new system meets the simplicity quality. Understanding that an overly sophisticated system is likely to increase the resistance attitudes, as the leader, I will participate in demonstrations of how the system will be used. While it is not possible to exhaust the functionality of the system in one seating, I will suggest a mandatory training of the staff to ensure that they understand how the system functions. Indeed, it is highly recommended that the major nurse stakeholders are involved in the design of the system as this will increase the buy-in and enhance acceptance from the users.
Human beings are curios beings and love to test out the extended use of any system they encounter. As such, Rogers (2010) proposes that to increase acceptance, the proposed system should have the trialability quality. This characteristic of the system means that the system must have other extended capabilities besides the basic ones to allow for the users to experiment without necessarily compromising the system (Rogers, 2010). The availability of the vendor during training processes will ensure that the users understand and appreciate the system and ask questions about the system (Hunt et al., 2013). Besides, the system will have several layers of security to ensure that only authorized personnel can access specified types of data.
Finally, Rogers (2010) suggests that a system should have evidence that the proposed system has delivered measurable and observable results. To achieve this in our meeting, the vendor shall clarify to the nurses the number of facilities that they have helped build the system for and the relevant positive feedback from the said facilities. Using statistics of how efficiency, quality of care and the number of patients served with the implementation of the new system compared to the previous state will enhance the acceptability of the system as an important adventure.
Modern health care makes use and management of huge amounts of information which requires collection, review, processing and mining. The nurse leaders are important figures in the use of information technology to improve patient outcomes (Hunt et al., 2013). Specifically, the leaders must be able to motivate the subordinates to embrace the use of EHRs in processing, retrieving and securely storing individual data of the patients. Besides motivating, they need to communicate precisely on a daily basis on how the tasks should be completed to ensure the information system staff have a thorough understanding of the workflow. The managers also need to be involved together with the IS department during the design, development, and execution of the various clinical and administration applications (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2014). To reduce the possible resistance to the implementation of a new system, the model advocated by Rogers (2010) provides a practical approach that can allow the nurses to execute desired changes and use the nurses as the agents of change in the adoption of the new system.
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