By: Brooke Villarreal, Clinical Product Manager
Educating and empowering patients to take control of their health has been a mantra of nursing for many years. As we evolve into a healthcare setting encompassed by technology, it is becoming necessary that clinicians also educate and empower patients to utilize tools that allow them to take control of their personal health information.
Recently the American Nursing Association, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology’s Consumer Campaign, released a request for nurses to pledge “ to involve and empower consumers in their health management through the use of information technology” (ANA, 2012). The idea of this pledge is to encourage the use of information technology by nurses so they learn how to read, review and maintain their own health records online and therefore are able to assist and encourage patients to do the same. The ANA will be obtaining and reviewing innovative methods and tools, such as patient portals, submitted by nurses over the next few months and sharing with the ONC the most efficient strategies for facilitating adoption of more consumer-centric health information technology.
Patient advocacy has long been a primary focus for nursing. As healthcare technology evolves, we now have a new opportunity for advocacy as we focus on helping patients seek and understand their own health information and empower them to take action through effective use of information technology. Initiating this effort requires clinicians to first evaluate their methods for reviewing and editing their own personal health records, and then determine what methods they feel would be beneficial for their patients.
As clinicians, it is no longer enough that we lead by example in our health regimens. We must also empower and educate patients in utilizing information technology through leadership and advocacy. We must all practice what we teach, not only in health practices but also in health information technology utilization.
Follow the ANA updates at:www.nursingworld.org
Take the Pledge at:http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ThePracticeofProfessionalNursing/Health-IT/ONC-Consumer-Campaign-Pledge.html
Read more on how the software described here, commonly known as patient portals, will benefit hospitals.
In nursing school I was trained in how to thoroughly assess a patient's pain in order to provide the best treatment. This involved questions such as, Where is your pain? When did it start? And maybe most importantly, Does your pain radiate or travel anywhere else in the body? While a patient may believe his or her problem is located at the precise point of the pain, the pain may be a symptom of a problem somewhere else.
As an informatics nurse specialist, I continue to use those skills to treat a much different kind of patient. Customers from all clinical backgrounds report kinks and catches within the system. Often the most valuable question is, Does this problem travel or radiate? While customers may be adamant that they know the source of a problem, it does not necessarily mean the problem didn’t originate elsewhere, or that it doesn't affect one or more other areas of the electronic health record (EHR).
While I want to find the quickest solution to a customer problem, I must also address its source and prevent other issues elsewhere in the chart. Although the customer may be seeking a fast fix, ( no one likes to deal with pain for any length of time) as an informatics nurse, I must make sure I'm not causing further problems by implementing a resolution without first weighing the pros and cons of each solution.
Treating the source of a problem is done in much the same manner it would be in a hospital--- through consulting a team of experts. Through collaboration and brainstorming, a team of web developers, user-experience designers and fellow product managers can help determine the best solution in the shortest amount of time, while minimizing the impact on the rest of the system. That approach provides "pain" relief and increases "patient" satisfaction. The ultimate goal is to get the user "logged in, logged out, and on their way" to better EHR health!
Frank Newlands, M.D.