The role of nurses in IT: Key thoughts from ONC's CNIO Dr. Rebecca Freeman

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The success of health IT initiatives rely on more than just IT-related elements, and challenges often are process, workflow or implementation issues rather than IT issues, according to Rebecca Freeman, PhD, RN, CNO of the ONC. She writes in a post on Health IT Buzz that in this regard, nurses can often be an integral part of IT solutions.

"Nurses are often a major part of the solution: working in an interdisciplinary, team-based way to shape workflows, trainings, implementation plans and documentation policies and processes to ensure that health IT helps rather than hinders the delivery of care," Dr. Freeman writes.

Bedside nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, nursing leadership teams, nurse educators, nursing informaticists and clinical analysts all contribute to a properly functioning IT system, according to Dr. Freeman.

Bedside nurses coordinate care and can identify problem areas in workflows and processes. Registered nurses serve as on-the-ground providers who have a unique understanding of how health IT plays into caring for patients. Nurse educators are increasingly responsible for accurate documentation of care and outcomes in addition to providing clinical education. Nursing informaticists can help develop IT in a way that boosts their end-user experience, and clinical analysts are the longtime health IT experts.

"All of these nurses — and many others working in important roles and locations — are critical to the success or failure of health IT across the nation's delivery system," Dr. Freeman writes. "Practices and facilities…must integrate them into careful planning for pre-implementation, implementation and post-implementation operations of EHR systems."

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