Canadian Nursing Informatics Association

Mary Eileen MacPhail

5 Oct 2018 11:25 AM | Anonymous

How and why did you become interested in nursing informatics?

The mid 90’s, working as a charge nurse on a Thoracic Surgery unit, was my first exposure to the impact technology, specifically informatics, could have on patient care and outcomes. Between the devices and applications we were using daily and the opportunities provided because the unit manager, who already appreciated the potential of technology in patient care, would volunteer to participate in trials of new systems. The hospital was still very paper centric with paper charts, processes and records. That said the organization was taking steps towards expanding implementation and use of clinical systems and applications.
As part of that expansion, the implementation of an electronic clinical documentation system was being planned. To do this they would need to build a team of folks with clinical expertise and an aptitude for technology to plan, build and implement a system that supported clinical practice. A posting for an Informatics Nurse for this team caught my attention. Some of the key responsibilities for this role included working with multidisciplinary teams, providing design guidance, building documentation screens and reports and finally insuring review and approval. All of which I knew I could do and was very interested in doing. I was successful and have been working in clinical informatics every since.

The more I learned about informatics, the more I knew I had to be part of it. The informatics nurse position saw me facilitating design groups, providing education and training, and seeking out new opportunities to introduce new technology tools to existing clinical groups.

I joined the Nova Scotia Nursing Informatics Group and have been an active member for the last 20 years. Through the years I have held many of the executive positions, currently I am the treasurer.   We are a small dedicated group that has organized many conferences, educations sessions and serve as a resource for the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia.   Membership and participation in this group helps me to stay in the loop of current trends and attended national conferences.

While the clinical documentation system was not implemented even though a great deal of time and effort went into the design and build, leaders in the organization recognized that clinicians working in collaboration with technical team are a positive. The new role in the Information Technology (IT) department was created, Clinical Informatics Coordinator which is my current role.

Describe what your current role involves?

My role, as a Clinical Informatics Coordinator allows me to wear many hats, so days are never boring.

I am responsible for many aspects of integrating technology into practice – working with users to understand the wants and the needs, analyze the options related to available technology, and identify the opportunities for change. I then translate these findings into design, work collaboratively with IT folks to build and ultimately introduce the changes back to the user group. My goal is to insure the changes bring process improvement whether through better and/or easier data capture, improved patient care, access to clinical information or improved reporting.

Each of the hats is just another aspect of clinical informatics. From education to design to delivery to evaluation I am the liaison between the clinical and technical worlds.

Which areas of nursing informatics do you find most interesting?

I find the change management piece most interesting. Working thru the changes with clinicians enabling them to make informed decisions is both challenging and rewarding

What advice do you have for others who are interested in nursing informatics?

Your level of technical expertise is not important; it is your clinical knowledge that is the key.

Join your local and national Informatics groups. Get involved. Attend workshop, conferences, and webinars.   These opportunities will help to develop a network of people with the same interests and expertise.

Why did you join CNIA?

I joined CNIA to become part of the bigger picture. I wanted to know what was going on across the country and learn from others and to share my knowledge.


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