Seamlessly Sharing Information Across Communities of Care

HIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights

Of great importance to patients, nursing, and thus to nursing informaticists (NI), is the ability to seamlessly share information form one setting to another. There are two aspects to optimal information sharing.

The first is the assurance that every provider has all necessary patient information at the point of care. Having current, valid and complete patient information is required to provide optimal care, decrease costly errors and promote well-coordinated care across settings.

The second is the design of systems, which support the capture and transmission of all key documentation. Then, aggregated data can be used to inform future care encounters, demonstrate the impact of nursing care on patient outcomes and provide data-based support for population health management. 

Attaining this (stretch) goal requires attention to interoperability and standardized terminology. What is our challenge? We have an increasingly older population, many with multiple chronic conditions and many requiring increasingly complex and well-coordinated care. Without maximally available and complete patient data, we will lose the opportunity to provide the best possible, most effective and efficient coordinated care for these patients as they transition from one setting to another or one provider to another. Therefore, nurses with expertise in informatics are needed to provide leadership and to promote solutions that address these issues. 

We are already developing increasingly robust state and regional Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) that have begun to demonstrate value; we are continuing to improve our understanding of structured standard terminologies; we are creating amazing new applications, many mobile, to assist patient-centered care; and we are on the road to the use of “meaningful use” standards to guide data exchange. 

The Office of the National Coordinator, in its recent 10-year strategy document, opens with the statement: “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a critical responsibility to advance the connectivity of electronic health information and interoperability of health information technology (health IT).” I would suggest that this is a (if not the) critical responsibility for nursing informaticists in the near future.  For additional information, please visit the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.

About the Contributor
Ida Androwich is a Professor of Nursing (and Business) at Loyola University Chicago and teaches graduate courses in Health Care Informatics, Systems, Outcomes Performance Management and Population-based Infection Control. In 2008, she was named Loyola’s Graduate Faculty Member of the Year. She was named the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Leader of 2009 and in 2010 was awarded the Rutgers University 13th Annual Award for Advancement in Technology in Healthcare. In 2013 she received Loyola University Damen Award for Leadership. She received a BSN (Magna cum Laude) from Loyola University Chicago, an MS in Public Health Nursing and a PhD in Public Health (Health Resource Management) from the University of Illinois.