Workforce Development

An Overview of How Portugal Adopted Nursing Informatics to Improve the Healthcare System Case Study

Over the past two decades, the integration of nursing informatics (NI) in Portugal has resulted in a small, but significant, revolution in healthcare that has accelerated the adoption of EHRs. To have useful and efficient electronic health systems, it is necessary to include the evidence-base to support practice. In order to do this, informatics-educated health professionals are necessary to transform and improve healthcare through the visionary application of information and communication technology (ICT). At a 2012 Conference in Norway, Nick Hardicker, RN, PhD, Professor of Nursing and Health Informatics, Associate Head, Research & Innovation, University of Salford School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Sciences in Wales, stated, “We may considerer that ‘great systems need great nurses.’” To be great nurses, an understanding of health ICT is now a requirement.

The introduction of nursing documentation in electronic format brought with it the need to use taxonomies and nursing ontologies. Its use allowed healthcare professionals to evolve from systems-based on paper support (free-text) to electronic systems-based on structured languages. Twenty years ago, we understood that the introduction of nursing documentation in electronic form was an opportunity to make nursing care more meaningful for citizens by reflecting on professional practices, determined by the need to incorporate structured language in information systems.

We would like to highlight that one of the key areas for successful implementation of the new health informatics system was the significant development of nurses equipped with basic computer and informatics competencies.