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Focus - Informatics evolution

Nurses and midwives are being called on to progress the automatic information agenda in Ireland, writes Pamela Hussey

Nurses in Ireland have established a strong communications network across and between services. While some nurses in primary and secondary care had never actually met, they had spoken on the phone. The focus of the conversation was invariably to ensure that in the ‘handover of care’, important information on discharge or transfer of vulnerable patients who may otherwise not been seen as a priority is addressed and risk minimised. This complex and expressive communications network has been in operation both formally and informally for many years, and should continue to do so. But is this enough?

While nurses focus on taking care of patients/clients, the political and healthcare landscape is changing and the new public services agreement 2013-2016 and its associated plan for reform will influence professional practice in ways that we could never have envisaged. We need to maximise visibility to the corporate Health Service Executive team to ensure that nursing and midwifery practice outcomes are at the forefront.

This process has been started but a critical factor in this sphere is nursing and midwifery informatics. The term informatics simply means automatic information and is often associated with information management. Internationally, informatics is defined by the International Medical Informatics Association Special Interest Group on Nursing Informatics (IMIA SIG NI) as nursing and midwifery informatics science and practice. It integrates nursing and midwifery, its information and knowledge and their management with information and communication technologies to promote the health of people, families and communities worldwide.1

Nursing and midwifery, the largest stakeholder group practicing in frontline healthcare, is now facing reform that will impact on professional and personal roles. Concerns are also being raised regarding the impact these will have on patients and the future of nursing and midwifery – simply put, we are at a watershed.

Good nursing care is often only evident by its absence. This article could be regarded as a call to action to all nurses and midwives with an interest in progressing the informatics agenda in Ireland, primarily to design health records, and to educate and train staff to protect and sustain nursing and midwifery practice. We need to consolidate our purpose, formally expand our communications network, and collaborate and co-operate to ensure we are both effective and efficient.

To achieve this, we need a focused dialogue to build relationships and deliver an accelerated and improved nursing and midwifery co-operative platform for informatics in Ireland. The Health Informatics Society of Ireland Nursing and Midwifery Special Interest Group (HISINM) has drafted a new action plan to support this work. We are currently accepting new members to help inform the way forward in Ireland.

The goals of the organisation include:

  • To establish and promote the national profile for nursing and midwifery informatics in Ireland. Through a process of restructuring, strategically position HISINM group as an emerging national association for nursing and midwifery informatics in Ireland
  • To provide nursing and midwifery informatics leadership to all organisational bodies and services that nursing and midwifery engage with to promote the health informatics agenda in Ireland
  • To offer advice and expertise on informatics to organisations and services engaged in health policy development in Ireland
  • To expand and broaden HISINM membership to include nurses and midwives who may not consider themselves as experts in the domain of informatics
  • To act as an advisory hub and professional network for nursing and midwifery practice development in areas that encompass a health informatics agenda
  • To proactively influence all organisations and services engaged with health policy development in Ireland on matters relating to nursing and midwifery informatics
  • To develop a more focused and cohesive collaborative relationship with strategic national organisations and groups in Ireland
  • To provide guidance and support for education and training of nursing and midwifery informatics competencies in Ireland
  • To promote and publish nursing and midwifery informatics research in Ireland.

The HISINM website will be launched in the late Spring at the Pan European eHealth Summit Conference in Dublin on May 13-15. This international event is to be held as part of the Irish EU presidency. For more information on eHealth Week, see www.ics.ie/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article2

The ACENDIO European conference on nursing diagnosis interventions and outcomes takes place in Dublin from March 20-22. For more details, visit the webpage at www.acendio.net/acendio-2013-dublin/3

For information or to join the HISINM, email: michael@ics.ie or pamela.hussey@dcu.ie.

Pamela Hussey is a lecturer at School of Nursing and Human Sciences, Dublin City University


  1. International Medical Informatics Association Online Resource. Available from: http://imianews.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/imia-ni-definition-of-nursing-informatics- updated/
Focus - Informatics evolution


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