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4 Ways That Informatics Could Improve Health Care Treatment

Since the modern discipline of nursing was properly established in the 19th century, nurses have been exploring ways to improve the collaboration of interdisciplinary nursing professionals who use data from patient records and other valuable clinical data. Many of these interdisciplinary nursing professionals are former nurses who have obtained certification within health informatics often through a ANCC certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification. [7]

Health informatics is a subfield of medicine that incorporates nursing science, technology, and analytical sciences to standardize the effective management and communication of information among nurses, patients, and health care providers. This is accomplished through this following:
• advanced medical technology that improves medical procedures
• data recording tactics
• treatment planning
• the communication practices of health care professionals

Health informatics also elevates the overall effectiveness of health care providers through a number of additional initiatives. [5] Some essentials include informatics helping identify potentially harmful treatment or prescription errors, refining patient record retrieval, improving accuracy of health insurance and increasing the safety of patient information.

1. Informatics can help prevent harmful treatment and prescription errors

Currently, medication errors are estimated to impact a minimum of 1.5 million patients per year.[6] Unfortunately, the consequences of misdiagnosing a patient, or prescribing the wrong drug or dosage, can significantly worsen the medical condition and further compromise the patient’s health. These and other examples of medical errors—such as incomplete treatment of a disease, injury, behavior or condition—are generally the result of identifiable mistakes. These include the improper use of medical equipment, the incorrect recording of patient data, or miscommunication between medical professionals.

The medical community is now prioritizing clinical efforts to reduce the frequency of medical errors by incorporating health informatics technologies. This strategy will help standardize the tracking of diagnostic information, and the administration of prescription drugs. One potential solution that is being studied involves the use of digital systems to report and analyze diagnoses. These systems can aid in preventing falsely collected data or erroneous diagnoses that usually stem from misread lab reports. In regard to reducing medication errors, bar-coded and automated pharmaceutical dispensing systems have been shown to decrease the likelihood of a mismatch between a patient’s identity and their proper medication.

2. Informatics improves patient record retrieval

The acknowledgement of a patient’s medical records is extremely important to the delivery of quality care that treats patients based on their individual needs. If there is difficulty accessing a patient’s medical records, critical consequences may result. Important information noted by past physicians, surgeons, and specialists, may not be available during diagnosis, potentially resulting in conflicting treatments. For example, if a patient has an allergy to a particular medicine, the inability of a nurse or physician to access that data before prescribing said medicine would likely lead to an allergic reaction.

Informatics can be applied to prevent instances like this by streamlining the way medical records are stored and retrieved in electronic health care record systems. This leading-edge data storage system enables any health care provider who has access to the electronic database to view their patient’s medical history, in real time.

3. Improves accuracy for health insurance administration

To ensure proper compensation for medical treatments provided under Medicare or Medicaid, medical professionals must document their work in a specific manner. They must confirm that they administered treatment to patients, then store and record the patient’s medical history using the appropriate electronic forms. Incorporating informatics into this process speeds the flow of information between health care providers and the government. It also improves the standardization of patient information, making it easier for future health care professionals to streamline their own practices. In the end, informatics allows faster file submission, resulting in health providers being reimbursed more quickly, and patients being informed of their covered treatments more rapidly.

4. Patient information is safer when stored using informatics technology

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many medical records were physically locked away in secured locations, requiring medical professionals to maintain them, and protect them from theft. This physical method to record storage does impact patient’s safety in some ways. Because the data is physical instead of virtual (i.e., digital), there is an inherent risk of the information being lost due to mishandling or natural disasters, hacking by identity thieves, or tampering by any person with malicious intent. With modern health informatics, these threats are partially eliminated. Electronic health record systems offer secure data storage that uses advanced computing technologies to encrypt and secure patient data.[4] Not only is the information housed safely, but patients and medical personnel also have more consistent access to the data, reducing any delay that may otherwise inhibit the delivery of effective, patient-centered care.

As health science and technology progress in a positive direction, so do the health outcomes of patients. It is safe to say that investigating new informatics technologies to improve interconnectivity between patients and medical professionals is a major key to advancing the health care industry. Clinical and practical nurses can certainly learn the basics of using informatics.

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Family nurse practitioners play a major role in today’s health care field. The responsibilities of FNPs have evolved alongside that of physicians, which means additional opportunities, autonomy, and authority. At Regis College, our Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner online program can help you develop the specialized skill set you need to practice at the advanced level.

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Patient Education and Chronic Pain
The Importance of Health Promotion for Family Nurse Practitioners
How Family Nurse Practitioners with a DNP Degree Empower Patients and Families