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In nearly ten years of nursing, I have seen a great deal of positive changes with informatics and patient care, as well as technological fails by my organization. One aspect of Nursing Informatics (NI) that makes it a complex specialty is that it attempts to manage knowledge across a span of disciplines. Positive interprofessional collaboration creates better patient outcomes and improves patient care and safety (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2017). Meaningful interprofessional interaction can be achieved with a specific method. One of the vital skills associated with being a Nurse Informaticist (NI) is that of project management (Sipes, 2016). Two years ago, I was able to see that skill utilized. My organization hired a team of Nurse Informaticists and data specialists to determine a method that would be appropriate hospital-wide for the communication between clinical and managerial staff and improve patient care. The Nursing Informaticists chose and implemented the HUDDLE (Healthcare, Utilizing, Deliberate, Discussion, Linking, Events) method (McGonigle et al., 2017), which every department was required to adopt at the beginning of both day and night shifts. Full-sized dry-erase boards were installed in each department, and a grid was made that was divided into sections for the HUDDLE acronym, including sections for equipment, and data pertinent to specific departments. For the first couple of weeks, a team of informaticists led the “Huddles,” ensuring that both Charge RNs and staff RNs understood the way to go over the white board together.
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At first, it felt as though we were being treated like kindergarteners with a new teacher, because we were having to go through the Huddle Board exactly as the Informaticist directed, no deviating. Admittedly, I wondered how someone that was not constantly involved in clinical care seemed to think that by us following her example of Huddle, we could improve our entire organization. I think if the NI had started our instruction with the disclaimer that while what we were doing seemed rudimentary and repetitive, she could prove it was vastly effective with specific evidence from hospitals across the U.S who had adopted the same method. Knowing why we were being taught a new method for communication would have made a more positive impact. Thankfully, as time went on, we began to see some departmental progress because of the Huddle Board. Any issues we encountered that could not be rectified by our Manager and/or Director was “escalated” to upper hospital management that same week. We received new equipment when we needed it, we determined we needed some new department protocols, and we were able to recognize our co-workers for jobs well done in emergent situations.
As we are more dependent on EHRs as an organization, I firmly believe that advances in nursing informatics will be directly linked to improved patient care across departments, more efficient data collection and analysis, and increased nurse productivity. These accomplishments can reduce costs and help decrease medical errors (Norwich University, 2019).