Cloud Computing Putting Nursing Informatics Specialization in High Demand

We know that cloud computing has the potential to revolutionize health care administration by allowing providers to access information from a patient’s medical file at anytime from anywhere and that should mean that patients will receive better and more efficient quality care. “Everything in health care today is so dependent on computers and cloud computing is the repository for all of these transactions,” says Suzanne Richins, DHA, MBA, FACHE, RN, chair, health information management and health care administration at American Sentinel University.  “Cloud computing benefits nurses at point of care because no matter where the patient has a diagnostic test, the cloud ensures that data is available everywhere.”

Healthcare has been a relative latecomer to cloud computing, largely because of the industry’s unique data security, regulatory, and patient privacy concerns. However, the mandate to widely adopt electronic medical records (EMRs), however, is expected to change all that and a recent report by research firm MarketsandMarkets projected health care-related cloud computing will become a $5.4 billion global industry by 2017, encompassing both clinical and non-clinical applications.

Notwithstanding the IT efficiency gains and other commonly cited benefits of cloud computing, Richins points out that health care will start seeing innovative, cloud-based applications that specifically benefit nurses and patients at the point of care:

One example is Ultimate Caregiver, a nurse call system which merges pull cord technology with the power of cloud computing and mobile devices to allow for wireless paging and generated staff response reports.When a patient rings for a nurse, the call signal is processed in the cloud and alerts are sent to nurses in the form of texts, e-mails, pages, or phone calls. This allows nurses to be more efficient on the floor, as the closest staff member can respond quickly to the patient and no one is tied to a nursing station to track patient call signals.

The use of cloud computing will also have a positive impact on career nursing opportunities in nursing informatics. Richins notes that all of the third-party payers, including the government require reporting of quality measures and nurse informaticists are responsible for analyzing the data for reporting to these organizations. “Nurse informaticists are critical to identification of problems, the root cause and identification of solutions and now that the payers do not reimburse for certain diagnoses, readmissions and hospital-acquired infections, nurse informatics are critical to the process as all decision-making requires evidence that comes from the data,” says Richins.

Cloud-based computing is also a boon to home health nurses, giving them easy access to accurate data, allowing them to document visits and update charts in real-time and freeing them from the cumbersome daily synchronization routine.

“Health informatics is the new frontier of health care and one of the fastest growing fields today. Nurses with a nursing informatics specialization will be in high demand to manage health information systems critical to the mission of health care delivery.” Richins also points out that while opportunities in nursing informatics are plentiful, nursing informatics is not an entry-level career. “RNs who find work in this specialty typically have several years of experience and professional education in both information systems and nursing.” A registered nurse with an associate degree in nursing can pursue a nursing informatics degree by taking the RN to BSN courses or RN to MSN courses. If a nurse already has a BSN, they can enter directly into the MSN program with a concentration in nursing informatics.

Primary Source: American Sentinel University Press Office

—Tom Finn

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