Since I was very young, I was always interested in science, and while exploring careers in college, my uncle suggested nursing. It was almost a fluke, but becoming a nurse has definitely been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. It combines my people skills with science, and now, technology.
How I fell into nursing informatics is interesting. I was a critical care nurse at another hospital, and one of my best friends since I started nursing in 1994 — we were nurses together on the same floor — she goes “Rosemary, we have to go back and get our master’s.” Out of the blue.
So we enrolled in the Adult Nurse Practitioners Program at NYU. In your first semester you have to take an elective called Nursing Informatics. This was in 2000, and I just got hooked. I was never the most forward person when it came to technology, but I just had a feeling that this was going to be the future.
Nursing informatics supports nursing practice and patient engagement by driving technologies that create workflow efficiencies and that allow our nurses, providers, and patients to focus on patient care, and not on tasks such as data entry or information retrieval. This has become increasingly important as our health care delivery model and environment changes to incorporate more technology-based solutions.
It all starts with data. What’s the easiest way for a nurse to capture blood pressure? How does this blood pressure parameter live in the EMR [electronic medical record]? Then the question is, how do you change that data or how do you merge data and then create something that is information?
Using a machine to take blood pressure and wirelessly transmit it to the EMR alone doesn’t tell you much, but if you put it in terms of, you’re 118 over 80 now but yesterday you were only 90 over 60, you can ask, “Why has this person’s blood pressure become elevated?” Now you are building information.