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Nursing informatics is a specialty that deals with this area. Note that when I say “patients” that is inclusive of the varied levels at which nurses practice- individual patients, families, communities and populations. Computers can be used (by humans, computers are machines):
to communicate- between patients and providers or patients and patients, faculty and students, within and between departments i.e. a medication order goes to the pharmacy (inpatient or outpatient), the patient’s medical record, the billing company, and the electronic medical administration record.
to teach- again patient education as well as student education, continuing education, just in time education at the point of care- huge area- lots being done with animations and other forms of presenting information in nontext formats
to document/chart- an example here would be to photograph a wound rather than use words to describe it- which would be a clearer way of determining changes to what the wound looks like?
to conduct research- gathering, interpreting and analyzing data as well as display and dissemination of results, literature searches and synthesis and so on.
to make clinical decisions based on best evidence
to create and update policy and standards of care and make those easily accessible and uniform within and across organizations, states, nations and internationally.
to collect clinical data at the point of care (and ideally link with a central data repository such as the electronic health record wirelessly) for clinician use
to promote collection and analysis of data for quality control and change to ensure the best possible care for patients.
Those are just for starters. Add in the use in varied settings and situations and there area many, many possible applications. And many, many potential problems. Grin.
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