As science and technology advance, nurses have more access to data about their patients than ever before.
Kristi Reguin-Hartman, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC
Director, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses
Nurses use information from patient physiologic and psychosocial assessments, laboratory values, and medical devices and equipment to analyze a patient’s health status and create a plan of care. As the amount of information available to nurses increases, it is necessary to filter the information to that which is most important.
Clinical decision support tools present these data points through computer analysis to alert for potential changes in health, provide point-in-time reference materials for providers, remind about preventative care needs of the patient, and make suggestions for clinical interventions. These systems can use predictive analytics or artificial intelligence to find patterns quickly. For example, clinical decision support analytics are used to recognize patients at risk for falls, clinical deterioration, or signs of sepsis as early as possible, often before physical symptoms are present. Nurses can then use these collated facts and figures as part of their clinical judgement to decide next interventions.
The increasing number of clinical decision support tools can provide helpful resources, but use can be limited when nurses have not been involved in the creation of the instrument. To counter this, nurses should be involved in the design and implementation of any clinical decision support devices. Nurses are natural innovators, often designing workflow improvements at the point of care and creating solutions with the supplies that are available to them if the ideal one doesn’t exist. Clinical decision support program designers want to use the technology to improve healthcare and healthcare delivery, and nurses have the expertise and experience needed to make this happen. Strong end-user input can help prevent technology uptake failures.
Involving nurses in product and innovation projects should start in the problem identification stage and continue through solution delivery. New healthcare technologies that are designed in partnership with nurses or led by nurses will be easier to implement, increase user satisfaction, and improve outcomes for patients.