Decision making is an essential part of nursing practice. Every day, nurses are called upon to make complex decisions relating to their patients, often coordinating their care and advocating for their best interests in what can be life and death situations.

Nurses use critical thinking to understand and plan for the needs of the whole patient, analysing and evaluating the patient’s issues beyond their immediate medical issues in order to form a judgement on the best course of action. 

This means taking into account a range of factors, from their previous experience and expectations through to their support networks and financial circumstances. Having access to high-quality data is important to understand the needs of the whole patient. 

But what constitutes high-quality data for nurses, and why is it so important? 

What nurses need:

To support critical thinking and decision making, nurses need good information that they can rely on. The data needs to meet a number of parameters to be of the most use.

  • Trusted: Nurses make life and death decisions and take direct actions every day – mainly based on the information they have access to at the time. They need to know what data they’re looking at and where it’s sourced from. 
  • Readily accessible: Critical thinking involves analysing available information about each case and deciding on the best course of action. Rather than being “drowned with data” though, nurses need relevant, organised information that supports their critical thinking. 
  • Comprehensive: Having access to information from clinicians who have provided care to their patients is important for nurses. Data from GP and hospital care, and patient-generated data, behavioural health data, and social determinants of health data can help inform decisions on care.
  • Single source of truth: Managing integrated data relies on those using and adding to it understanding the importance of preserving a single source of truth. All data needs to be displayed with its relevant metadata so that nurses know and fully understand the information on which they rely. 
  • Real-time: Data needs to be up-to-date in order for nurses to make well-informed, real-time decisions as part of their patient-facing role.

Supporting efficient, high-quality care

Using technological solutions to efficiently organise and present data can help support the delivery of efficient, high-quality care, as well as giving nurses some much-needed time back.

Interoperability – which is the ability of multiple systems to exchange and use health information – needs to be at the forefront when creating technological solutions to share healthcare data, which are often referred to as Health Information Exchanges (HIE). 

HIEs compile health data obtained from Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and other data sources.  They organise the available data and present it in a way that adds value for the clinician to help in their decision making on patient care. 

HIEs also help build a fuller picture of the patient and population through incorporating new and updated data generated as the patient’s care continues.  

To learn more read our recent whitepaper, A Nurse’s perspective on interoperability.

This whitepaper offers recommendations regarding the technology capabilities best suited to meet the needs of nurses on the front lines of healthcare. It takes a look into the expanding and evolving roles of nurses and offers a glimpse into some high-value nursing use cases that helps frame the substantial benefits of the right interoperability platform and the role of Health Information Exchange (HIE).

This is the third blog in the series. The previous blog looked at the importance of “Prioritising nurses’ access to patient health information“. The next in the series looks at “The role of HIEs in nursing”.