e-nurses needed – click here

1 November 2012

Electronic health records are just the tip of the e-health iceberg, and there is pressure on New Zealand nurses to understand the trends, reports KATHY HOLLOWAY.

As registered nurses, we are part of a global profession that constantly shares information through the Internet – nursing blogs, Twitter, and social media sites abound.

Key drivers – such as significant growth in the use of technology and the global impact of social media on health equity and access – mean that for our profession and the health systems we work within, the world is smaller and huge repositories of information are only a click away. Are you ready to be a globally savvy e-nurse?

Our healthcare system faces many challenges that are shared by others in developed countries across the globe. Thus, to understand what international colleagues are doing supports us to develop our own solutions – to retread rather than reinvent the wheel.

A clear example of this is the latest Institute of Medicine (IOM) report entitled Best Care at Lower Cost. The three key challenges identified by the IOM were the rising complexity of modern health care, unsustainable cost increases, and outcomes below the system’s potential – sound familiar to you? Interestingly, this report was the focus of much discussion at the recent APAC Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care in Auckland – underscoring the relevance for New Zealand.

The IOM report calls on nurses and others in the healthcare system to apply emerging tools, technologies, and approaches to yield lower costs and better health outcomes for patients. It is therefore critical that we as nurses are abreast of the new health technologies and tools available to us. Did you know that the vision of the New Zealand IT Health Board is to have all New Zealanders and their treatment providers able to access electronically their personal health information regardless of setting by 2014? What would that mean for your service?

New Zealand is starting from a position of strength as we are seen globally as a major player in Health IT systems with integration into 30 health systems in the world. Over 95 percent of New Zealand GPs use practice management software and already more than 50 million messages are sent via secure health data networks annually. Want to know more about what we are already doing? Watch this New Zealand Health IT Cluster video which you can find on Youtube at: http://bit.ly/Q0eLLB

As an extension to the electronic patient record concept, a recent Open Notes project in the USA examined the impact on patients and doctors when patients were allowed access to their doctors’ notes via a secure internet portal (read more at: bit.ly/RhtRAU). Overwhelmingly, patients were positive about this initiative and there are plans for the project to be extended. What would that mean for your practice if New Zealand went in this direction?

I am confident that we all want to achieve high- quality health care and improve patient safety, and technology used effectively can assist us with this. The focus of nursing remains on the central relationship of the nurse in service to the patient/family – technology needs to be transparent in this, not the star event! As nurses our deep awareness of the potentials and impact of new technology allows us to choose how best to practice – so keep clicking!

Dr Kathy Holloway is dean of the Faculty of Health at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.


Health Quality and Safety Commission

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The aim of this site, first launched in 2010, is to ensure all New Zealanders receive the best health and disability care within our available resources. This is a useful site to bookmark to keep up with progress in key areas such as medication safety and infection prevention and control. According to HQSC, health care-acquired infection is one of the most common adverse events in health care worldwide. Up to ten per cent of patients admitted to modern hospitals in the developed world acquire one or more infections. The hand hygiene website (www.handhygiene.org.nz) linked from this site is one initiative to address this important issue. [Site accessed 7 October 2012 and last updated 5 October 2012].

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

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The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has a very similar intent to the HQSC site and asserts that everyone deserves safe and effective health care. The institute’s goal is to work with healthcare providers and leaders throughout the world to fulfil that promise. The very useful site offers a knowledge centre that focuses on specific improvement areas such as evidence-based care bundles with tools, change ideas, measures, audio and video, and other resources. There are multiple user communities with discussion groups, wikis, blogs, and other resources that are shared around specific topics. You can register for free and access all the content.