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QStudent #5: Informatics

Hello QStudent readers! It’s quite obvious these days that a majority of what we do involves technology. We have smart phones, tablets, laptops, flat screen TVs, etc. In the healthcare world, patients can access their medical records online, charting is done through computer systems, and medication bar code scanning is found almost everywhere. The definition of informatics is, “The use information and technology to communicate, manage knowledge, mitigate error, and support decision making” (QSEN, 2003). Over many generations we have made great progress in our healthcare technology. This can be seen as both a positive and negative. We are now able to use highly advanced and accurate equipment to diagnose and treat diseases. Surgeries have become easier to perform, safer for the patient, and less invasive. Survival rates have increased and life expectancy is longer, due to the advanced technology we have among us today. As well as our equipment, almost every hospital and healthcare system uses computer based charting systems. This allows multiple members of the healthcare team, from nurses and doctors to therapists and pharmacists, to view a patient’s chart at the same time. Medications and orders are able to be approved faster, which is often helpful in emergency situations. Most systems will have built-in features to catch errors such as duplicate entries. A great advancement of computer charting systems is bar code scanning during medication administration. This forces the healthcare personal to scan the patient and the medication, and it verifies both for the clinician before they administer a medication to a patient. This is a huge improvement in the system and has helped to reduce the number of medication errors.

On the negative end of the spectrum of effects, we see healthcare prices rising. The greater the integration of technology, the more expensive our healthcare becomes, causing burden to many who do not have health insurance and cannot afford their healthcare needs.

The question is: What are your thoughts on the technology we have in healthcare today? What do you see as positive or negative? Is there something you would like to see different or see in the future? Does it help us to “communicate, manage knowledge, mitigate error, and support decision making”?

Let us know your thoughts.


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