What Is Informatics?

After reading this week’s material that included the required readings from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), I have a better understanding of what the word ‘informatics’ means.  Although there are various definitions of the word, it appears that informatics embodies the basic fact of technology and the connection technology has in the delivery of health care to consumers.   Considering the role of nursing, informatics is a combination of nursing, computer, and information science with the purpose of managing and communicating data, information, and knowledge in our daily nursing practice (RNAO).  When I reflect on my own daily nursing practice, I can identify many forms of nursing informatics that play a key role in the delivery of nursing care to my patients.  For instance, in order to communicate my nursing assessments I use a computer program to document which is interconnected with the interdisciplinary team.  Each health care discipline has their own ways of contributing to the patients electronic health record, but all members may access the information in order to provide holistic care to the patient.  Another example of nursing informatics at my workplace is the availability of ‘Up to Date’ to incorporate evidence based knowledge in our daily practice in order to provide competent and evidenced informed care to patients. 

I have been a nurse for five years and when I reflect on my experiences in these past years, it is surprising how rapidly eHealth has been integrated into the daily care of a patient regardless of the healthcare disciple that is treating them.  During my consolidation as a Registered Practical Nurse I was a part of the Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT) and each morning the interdisciplinary team would meet VIA Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) to update everyone on the status of their patients in the community.  This service was also used in the direct care of patients to see a psychiatrist so that patients who could not travel to their appointments could still be seen promptly.  As described above, this is an example of informatics being implemented to connect real patients to health care services VIA technology. 

Ontario Telemedicine Network has always sparked my curiosity as it appears to open up so many options for patients who might otherwise not be able to see specialists in the community.  At my workplace we are currently piloting an OTN consulting service for psychiatrists in the community.  As I researched this further, I found a news release from the OTN website from March 15, 2018 that spoke about this exact initiative.  The partnership is called OntarioMD that aims to engage family physicians and specialists with OTN to meet the needs of patients in the community.  There are two platforms that are being discussed that will assist physicians and patients in reducing wait times and ensuring access to healthcare services are more accessible.  This is a great example of informatics in practice currently.  Please see link below for further details!

https://otn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/otn-press-release-2018-03-15-ontariomd-partnership-en.pdf

RNAO. (n.d.). Health Informatics. Retrieved from Nursing and eHealth: https://elearning.rnao.ca/mod/page/view.php?id=489

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4 Comments

  1. Hello
    I enjoy reading your blog. I can also relate to your blog because I also believe I have a more in-depth understanding of the meaning of informatics. Each day as nurses we go to work and incorporate the use of technology into our practice without realizing the significant impact it has within our nursing practice. For example the use of electronic health records or taking the patient blood pressure which transmits the reading to the computer. At present my place of employment is adapting eHealth Ontario; which allow the nurses to obtain information on the patient outside of the hospital with just the push of a button. For example, if the patient was at another hospital, I can obtain patient health records.
    Thanks for sharing
    Lacey Ann

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  2. The possibilities really are limitless! I am excited to see these telemedicine applications becoming more common. This made me think of a relatively new telemedicine service “Maple” that a lot of moms on a local social media group have been using and talking about. It is an extremely convenient service for the community, but is also provided on a pay for service model that is not covered under OHIP. “Critics question whether it fits in with the Canada Health Act and the concept of universal coverage, especially since all of Maple’s 100+ physicians also practice within Canada’s health system, either as emergency department physicians or in family medicine.” (https://globalnews.ca/news/3694224/canadian-company-maple-offers-doctors-visits-online-for-a-price/)
    This makes me think of the complexities of integrating eHealth within the evolving needs of our populations while maintaining the equity that we strive for in our health care system.

    Like

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