The healthcare sector has witnessed an increase in the use of information technology with significant benefits to patient outcomes. The increased activity in health informatics world has led to an increase in data that is useful, but which can be manipulated by various parties within and even outside the healthcare facility. Consequently, hospitals fall at the risk of abuse of patient information if not well managed and protected within the computer systems and the internet as it flows from one department to another. Researchers have yielded considerable evidence that can be used to meaningfully strengthen knowledge management in safe and secure environment (McGonigle, Hunter, Sipes, & Hebda, 2014). Although the risk to patient information security is real, healthcare organizations can mitigate it by developing and implementing a nursing informatics best practices policy that would use data in a nursing practice setting or organization effectively and safely.
The purpose of this assignment is to highlight the development and implementation of a nursing informatics best practices policy for nursing practice settings or hospitals. The goal is to ensure that healthcare professionals provide quality and safe care in an accountable and responsible manner. Evidently, information systems in healthcare have improved service delivery, but they are prone to information security issues (McGonigle et al., 2014). The study provides essential information on the best practices that should be observed in the development and implementation of the policy, ethical standards in information security, the skills and behaviors of nursing leaders using information systems, and regulatory requirements within the environment where the information systems are used. The policy is the most effective approach to ensure that nurses use health information in a safe and secure environment to achieve the required benefits for patients and their organization.
Best Practices and Challenges in Implementation of the Policy
Nursing professionals should be accountable and responsible in the collection, management, and use of patient data. They have access to information systems with vast amounts of protected health information (PHI) and it is their responsibility to ensure safety of such data. Therefore, nursing settings and hospitals should understand and adopt best practices in the use of informatics to improve patient care. Finnell, Thomas, Nehring, McLoughlin, and Bickford (2015) reveal the importance of implementing the policy based on nursing practices as defined by the American Nursing Association standards. However, implementation of the rule is not always easy due to the constant changes in technology that potentially create loopholes in the implementation of information security measures. Furthermore, nurses have a lot of information in their practice, which might be problematic to track and secure. Nurse leaders should track the changes and ensure that they observe best practices such as considering ethical and regulatory standards in their use of information systems.
Ethical Standards in Nursing Informatics
Healthcare professionals should follow ethical standards while collecting, managing and using patient data. Health information is normally private and confidential and should only be used to support diagnosis, treatment, and management of medical problems. According to McGonigle and Mastrian (2014), health information should only be used for the purpose for which it is collected to protect it against third party access or use. Patients provide information to nurses expecting confidentiality in its use. Privacy as a best practice in nursing informatics refers to the duty of the nurses to protect information given by their patients. The ANA Code of Ethics informs the need for confidentiality in relation to electronic records suggesting that when such records are created and maintained, it is critical to ensure its security (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2014). Hence, nurses should always protect the information from malicious users who could harm the owner of such information.
The government recognizes the importance of creating an effective regulatory environment for the development and use of nursing informatics. The most important legislation regarding information security is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The bill, under Title II, protects electronic health care transactions against abuse. The law recognizes the role of nursing professionals to safeguard data by avoiding divulging patient information to third parties for any use outside effective provision of care (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2014). For example, it would be unethical for healthcare providers to reveal information about patients with preexisting conditions to insurance companies, which can use such data when providing insurance cover. If such information is required, it should be offered or authorized by the patient. Use of patient information in such a manner is a violation of the law that nursing professionals should avoid. The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (PSQIA) is another legislation that nurses should follow to ensure that they provide quality and safe care to their patients (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2014). Thus, nurses developing the policy should include the regulatory requirements as part of the best practice in the process.
Nurse Leaders’ Behaviors and Skills
Nurse leaders play a critical role in the implementation of healthcare information systems. Shulman (2015) indicates the critical role that nurse leaders should play in the coordination and management of care to support quality and practice. The leaders are operating in a rapidly changing environment and should keep track of changes and implement relevant models to enhance transition in a way that protects the integrity of information captured and managed in information systems within their nursing settings. The nurse leader is an advocate of the value of nursing and quality care to patients. Hence, they should work with other nurses in the coordinated model to ensure that the best practice policy is developed and implemented and that all health information is secure (Shulman, 2015). Nurse leaders should guide other nurses under their care in ensuring that the policy is effectively implemented and that all information security provisions are observed. Consequently, they will create a nursing practice setting where rights to privacy are protected while building the confidence of patients in the services offered in the hospital.
Nurses are increasingly depending on health information to provide quality care to their patients. Technology has developed such that the professionals cannot ignore the important role it plays in coordinating and managing care. Regardless of the importance of the information in providing quality care, nurses face significant challenges regarding information security. The risk involved in the collection, management, and use of health information is the rationale for the development and implementation of a nursing informatics best practices policy. The document outlines best practices and standards in the use of health information managed by a nursing practice setting or organization. Nurse leaders should confirm that regardless of the challenges in managing health information, they are responsible for ensuring its security for improved patient outcomes.