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Bringing Information Technology to Indian Nursing – Global Best Practices

Nursing is changing worldwide, as technology becomes more sophisticated and percolates into more practices within the nursing discipline. Having said that, there is an imperative need to introduce information technology in the Indian nursing system. At present, Indian nurses are unable to cope with work pressure due to the quantum of data generated in each of the cases they handle. This volume of data manifests itself in heavy paperwork, which nurses, attached to hospitals, are mandated to complete, to the detriment of their core nursing functions (Ball et al, 2000). In addition, Ball et al (2000) state that cost-cutting, at healthcare institutions, and consumerism have also created more pressure on nurses today.

Malpractice crises have forced nurses to focus more on complete and detailed nursing documentation. It is here that the adoption of information technology will significantly ease a nurse’s workload. Digital documentation and instant access to up-to-date information on a patient’s history, test results, and physician notes saves energy (that is otherwise spent duplicating documentation)and time (that is otherwise spent chasing down relevant documents in other departments). Not with standing the demonstrated benefits, rolling out an information technology platform is not easy and requires determination and perseverance from the implementers. The problem with introducing information technology is that, like in other fields, many nurses are resistant to any change in the existing system: especially, older generation nurses. Change, even if beneficial, is not always welcomed by the beneficiaries of such change.

Advances in biomedical technology and the use of sophisticated electronic equipment is already creating stress among nurses. Further compounding the stress, Ball et al (2000) argue that it is unfortunate that beneficiary nurses are not adequately involved in the selection and implementation of the information technology platform. Consequently, core nursing functions suffer too. The solution is to roll out information technology platforms in the nursing field, with the co-option and co-operation of the nursing staff. Indian nurses have to learn practices such as electronic recording and become more technologically savvy, so that their productivity can be improved and quality standards in delivering nursing care improved.

Marquis and Huston (2006) state that there are three reasons for change: firstly, to solve a problem or issue; secondly, to improve quality; and, thirdly, to decrease unnecessary workload for the particular working group. In the case of implementing information technology in nursing care, in India, all the three criteria are fulfilled: the problem of poor quality nursing care; addressing this problem using IT platforms; and in doing so, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the nursing staff through the reduction in unnecessary paperwork.

Many developed countries such as Canada, UK, and USA have already implemented information technology in nursing field. Even in India, several corporate hospitals have started to utilize information technology. Having said that, there is still huge scope for Indian nurses to further benefit from information technology, in ways which will reduce their workload even more. Needless to say, there will be, initially, stress and resistance to change; but as times rolls on, nurses will gain familiarity of any such new IT systems. IT is one global best practice that needs to be adopted by Indian nursing forthwith.