Overview of Nursing Informatics & 'Open' Health IT Solutions


According to Dr. Susan Hamer, the Director of Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Health professionals at NHS, implementing new health information technology (IT) systems often has a huge impact on clinical practices and in the past managers had underestimated the effort and expense needed to support nurses through this change. "While there is a small group of nurses that is taking on the informatics challenge, there are too few of them at the moment," she said. "Nurses need to take a better grip of the health informatics agenda, both to secure the technologies that the profession needs to improve operations  while also enhancing quality of care."  See http://www.ehi.co.uk/news/acute-care/7123/nurses-urged-to-lead-on-informatics

To date, the nursing community has primarily functioned as users of health care organizations'  IT systems, e.g. Electronic Health Records (EHR).  While they have been involved to some degree in defining functional requirements for these health IT systems, their role has been limited. Nurses could play a much bigger role in defining requirements for new health IT systems, especially given the growth of 'Open Communities' contributing to the development of tomorrow's 'Open Health IT' systems.  See http://health.cositech.net  

The time has come for nurses to get more actively involved in the design, development, and implementation of future health IT systems and ensure they better meet the needs of nurses.

Nursing Software

Nurses working in hospitals and clinics have grown accustomed to using the many administrative and clinical functions of Practice Management and Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems installed in the facilities where they work.

VistA Nursing - The Nursing application is just one of the many modules of the widely deployed 'open source' VistA health information system originally developed by the VA. The Nursing module is comprised of multiple components - i.e., Nursing Administration, Education & Training, Nursing Schedules, Clinical Care, and Quality Assurance. In addition, nurses use many of the other administrative and clinical functions of the system, e.g. Electronic Health Record (EHR), Clinic Scheduling, Patient Admissions/Discharge/Transfer (ADT), etc.

If you search diligently for them, there are a growing range of 'open source' or commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software products designed to specifically meet the needs of nurses and the nursing community, e.g. nursing education & training modules, nurse scheduling software, mobile nursing apps, etc.

Nursing Mobile Apps

Nurses and students can access drug guides, disease references, lab resources, and perform many other clinical functions using the growing number of free 'open source' or low cost mobile health apps that work on almost any brand device, e.g. iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile, etc.   Check out the following links:

Open Access Nursing Journals

In addition to the more traditional Nursing Informatics journals that charge a subscription fee, there are a growing number of free, 'open access' journals now available on the Internet.  See the following list of Nursing Informatics journals:

  • BMC Nursing is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of nursing research, training, education, and practice. 
  • Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI) is a free, international, professional, refereed publication that focuses on nursing informatics in all practice settings.

Nursing Organizations

Nurses interested in learning more about Nursing Informatics (e.g. news, careers, degrees, etc.) should look at the following organizations:

Open Health News is focused on providing news and information about the growing global 'Open' Health Community, Open Source Health IT Systems, Open Access Journals, Open Standards, Open Knowledge, Open Health IT Architecture, and more.

Tell us about any 'open source' or commercial Nursing software solution you have used and would recommend to Nurses and the Nursing Informatics community.