Why Should Doctors and Nurses Care About Informatics?
There are people who believe that we should care are about information technology (IT) because it is IT, and therefore it is wonderful. They generally wear anoraks, collect locomotive numbers and talk fluent Hungarian. For the rest of us, we care about things that make our lives better, easier, and occasionally just more fun.
I prefer to use the term informatics instead. Health informatics, the application of IT within health care has been defined as:
"The knowledge, skills and tools which enable information to be collected, managed, used and shared to support the delivery of healthcare and to promote health".
In other words it’s not just about computers!
For many people, their experience with trying to use information within the health sector has been one of frustration. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Informatics has the potential to help us do many desirable things:
- Provide accurate information at the point where it is needed
- Remove the need to keep recording the same data again and again and again
- Facilitate joined up care
- Help clinicians and patients make better decisions
- Eliminate transcription errors
- Improve decision making
- Manage a patient journey to reduce delays
In the past, enthusiasts have tended to create the impression that these things will happen without effort, and the benefits of the technology have been rather oversold. On the other hand, IT is in widespread use already in health care systems around the world. However, IT brings no benefit by itself.
The benefits accrue from working in different ways facilitated by the technology. This means that health care workers will have to change the ways that they work. That’s the bad news. The good news is that through that change the staff and the patients will get to a better place.