Cross the nursing and HIT divide

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Nurses can play an essential role in the design, development, and use of healthcare information technology (HIT) by partnering with HIT professionals.1 This kind of joint effort will help solve many of the problems with today's HIT, such as the mismatches in the way that HIT is currently designed and the way nurses think and work.2 Nurses' questions and comments about HIT are particularly noteworthy because they include such issues as divergences with workflow, extensive data entry requirements, difficulties in gathering information for activities like change-of-shift report, and a lack of integration across technologies. All of these issues contribute to patient safety risks and substantial frustration for nurses. HIT staff members at healthcare organizations also deal with the exasperations of being unable to change systems to address concerns brought to their attention by nurses due to a lack of flexibility with the technology.
In many organizations, nurses don't have a solid voice or seat at the table on HIT decisions. Clinical nurses are “expected to simply live with whatever shows up on their unit.”2 Informatics nurses, if they exist at an organization, may be the only nurses who have the knowledge to engage in software development and tailoring, leaving the vast majority of nurses out of the process. Yet, nurses at the point of care are the ones living with the software designs day by day. HIT staff members may be in the same situation, expected to implement and maintain whatever shows up on their servers. They're dealing with software that may not be designed for the majority of their users and, as a result, experience a stream of requests/complaints that they can't successfully address.
A broader conversation between HIT professionals and nurses is needed to develop a shared purpose and address these disconnects. What follows is a conversation between two informatics professionals who began on different sides of this divide. Beth began as a computer scientist who's an HIT professional and faculty member at a school of nursing. Nancy was a medical-surgical nurse for a decade and an enterprise electronic health record (EHR) implementer, and is now an HIT leader and usability researcher. They discuss common questions and answer from their own perspectives about how to bridge the nursing and HIT gap.
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