Evolution of Definitions for Nursing Informatics

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Reyes

Jennifer has taught Nursing in ADN, BSN, and MSN programs and has a Master's degree in Nursing Education.

This lesson takes a look at the historical evolution of definitions for nursing informatics. The historical significance of these definitions is that they have helped evolve nursing and healthcare changes. We will look at past and present theories, but also the future of nursing informatics definitions.

Evolution

The evolution of the specialty of nursing informatics is a relatively short one. When first introduced, nursing informatics focused mainly on the technology that made up the field of nursing, and very little about its users, nurses, and those who benefitted from the technology, patients. As a result, the definitions became information technology-oriented definitions.

As the decades progressed, the specialty of nursing informatics shifted focus to a more conceptual framework. Researchers sought to anticipate the need for technology, versus reacting to a problem that arises from technology. With conceptually-oriented definitions in mind, theorists evolved the definition of nursing informatics to include nursing information and goals as well as users. However, even with a more updated definition of nursing informatics, the changing times called for another changing definition.

As healthcare, nurses, and other specialties entered the 1990s, it was clear that technology had pushed and changed the path of healthcare and would continue to do so. In addition, a new emphasis was placed on decision-making processes and the impact on patient care. As the specialty looked at the impact informatics had on these aspects, it was clear that a more focused definition was needed to hone in on the specific roles within the field of nursing informatics. Role-oriented definitions began to emerge and focus more on the nursing informatics specialist instead of the specialty itself.

Now that we've introduced each one, let's check out each of them in a bit more depth.

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  • 0:02 Evolution
  • 1:38 Information…
  • 2:41 Conceptually-Oriented
  • 4:03 Role-Oriented Definitions
  • 5:12 Lesson Summary
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Information Technology-Oriented Definitions

Information technology-oriented definitions are just as they sound; they are the early definitions of nursing informatics that focused on the information technology that was used itself. Early authors of these definitions include Scholes, Barber, Hannah, Saba, McCormick and Zielstorff. These authors focused on a technology-oriented view of nursing informatics that severely downplayed the role of a nursing informatics specialist as well as patient interaction. The lack of emphasis on patients in relation to nursing informatics was customary of the times.

During the early decades of nursing informatics, patients were still playing a more passive role in their own health. With the dawn of technology, such as the Internet and smartphones, patients were able to take more control of their healthcare needs and become more active players in their care. This again changed the way technology was used in healthcare and the need for it. In addition, the technology-oriented definitions do not adequately explain the role in which the nurse, bedside or specialist, assumes when using technology in practice.

Conceptually-Oriented Definitions

The shift from information technology-oriented definitions to conceptually-oriented definitions began around the 1980s. During this time, it was authors such as Schwirian and Turley that made a call for action, to change the focus of nursing informatics definitions from technology-based to purpose-based. They defined, along with others such as Graves and Corcoran, that the focus of these definitions should be on the purpose of the technology and model-driven rather than problem-driven.

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