Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Informatics Nurse

A Nursing vignette, presented as a part of National Nurses Week. 

Stephanie H. Hoelscher MSN, RN-BC, CPHIMS, CHISP

Chief Clinical Analyst, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

It started with Ebola, then Zika. Now we are waiting for Virus “X.” It is not a matter of if, but when. The goal is to be faster than “X,” smarter. We watched from a distance as our brothers and sisters fought Ebola in a Dallas, Texas healthcare facility. That could have been us. It could have been any of us. We knew at that moment that our electronic health record (EHR) was not ready. When Zika came, we made sure it was.

I am not an epidemiologist. I am not in public health. I do not work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I am an informatics nurse. My job is to coordinate with those subject matter experts and make the EHR smart enough to keep you safe from Virus “X,” hopefully. Every day we have to come up with better, faster ways to make sure the EHR is current, evidence-based, and safe, all while simultaneously trying not to overload our healthcare providers so much that they miss the warnings altogether. It is a textbook example of translating research into practice.

We have made the push to break off a unique infectious disease governance team; one that is interdisciplinary, skilled in clinical decision support (CDS), and open to doing things differently. Our development of a rapid deployment CDS model is getting ready to make its next leap. It is a scary time trying to outsmart emerging infectious diseases, but we are trying hard to work together as a team and give it our best shot. How about you?

Join us in celebrating #Nurses4HIT and the value they bring to health IT during #NursesWeek May 6 - 12: