Nurses are crucial to improving quality and safety standards because they are the largest group of healthcare professionals (Glassman, 2017). Nurses care for patients and are responsible for identifying issues and implementing and adjusting care for each patient 24 hours a day (Mancieria et al., 2017). The growing use of electronic health records (EHR) has proven very helpful in monitoring and analyzing data (Mancieria et al., 2017). Not only is the EHR vital for improving patient outcomes, but it also shows the impact of nursing care on patients (Mancieria et al., 2017).
When recalling experiences and observations with nursing informaticists in my healthcare organization, the nurses in the Quality Improvement (QI) department come to mind. At my hospital, we have a team of nurses that work in the QI department reviewing data related to patient care to improve patient outcomes. A few examples of this data are restraint usage and documentation, catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI), central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), etc. These nurses are continually reviewing this data and working on ways to decrease the incidence of patient issues. The QI nurses use data to implement new policies on our unit and round frequently on our patients to ensure we are implementing these strategies.
Regarding Foley catheter safety, they ensure the stat lock on the foley catheter is dated and timed, there is a loop present, and a urine sample is sent before insertion. Regarding central lines, they must be dated for the last dressing change, have alcohol caps present on the ends, and be clean and dry. These are just two examples that the QI team monitors due to research for best practices. One way I do think communication can be improved is by explaining the rationale and the data behind these best practices and rather than just implementing a policy or procedure, teaching to those who will be applying it why or why not. Although the world has not fully grasped the full potential of big data analytics, I think most healthcare agencies are on the right path (Wang, Kung, & Byrd, 2018).
In conclusion, big data analytics and those who decipher the data are essential to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes. However, I do think it would be beneficial to have the nurses understand the data as well as they are the ones implementing care.