Fellow of IMIA-NI; Telehealth Programme Manager | Information Management Services, Auckland, New Zealand

 

 

 


From the early 1980’s I was interested in how computers could assist nurses by removing repetitive tasks and improving information flow and accuracy.  As a nurse in charge of a medical ward who had to create rosters for the staff each month, I thought that computers must be able to remove the repetitive mundane part of this.  New Zealand (NZ) was far away from the rest of the world, and we had no access to the internet back then.  I had to go to the university library and request an electronic search for publications related to nursing, computers and rosters.  Next week I returned, and they gave me a computer generated list of the publications that had papers related to my search.  Unfortunately, many of the journals were not readily available in NZ.   I was also informed by NZ IT people that there was no computer in NZ that was powerful enough to create the rosters I was anticipating.  I still had hopes though, that computers could help us in the future as I continued working for nearly ten years as nursing supervisor and hospital duty manager.

I lived with “computers” in my home for twelve years, courtesy of my husband who kept saying I would be good at “computing”.  Only when on special project secondment to Pharmacy did I find a use for them.  Evaluating Pharmacy “imprest” stocks in wards required me to calculate the value of stock and how much we were saving in our redesign project.  The first area took me twenty hours on a calculator, so home I went and pointing at the computer, said to my husband “That thing must be able to do this more efficiently”.  As Lotus123 was still DOS based, I started with an instruction list – turn on computer – type “this” – push “Enter”  – type “that” – push “Enter”….  As I needed to know things, he taught me spread-sheeting and lookups and I never looked back.

Not long after this, a group of nurses established “Nursing Informatics New Zealand (NINZ)” and I was an early member.  By the next year I had decided computers were coming in Health and we better have clinical people involved.  By the following year that I found a way into employment in the Information Systems Department.  Although I thought my knowledge was small, I soon found I did know quite a bit and my management, clinical and hospital knowledge was valuable.  I have continued working in informatics in a variety of roles, Implementation Analyst, Account Manager, Information Management Consultant and latterly Telehealth Programme Manager.  I have learnt so much about many aspects of Information Technology and Systems through those roles.  In the Health Informatics field, teamwork (which is a key strength of nurses) is vital to achieving results and improving outcomes for patients.

Through my involvement with Nursing Informatics both nationally and internationally I have been able to learn from and share with amazingly talented people who all want to see the best outcomes in all aspects of nursing and health, whether it be clinical, education, management or research areas.   My involvement in NINZ, a voluntary organisation, led to exposure to the international scene.  With Robyn Carr as our inaugural representative to IMIA-NI General Assembly in 1994, we bid successfully in 1995, to host the International Nursing Informatics Conference in Auckland, New Zealand in 2000. Many new skills were acquired from organising and hosting the conference.

Robyn represented New Zealand on IMIA-NI until I succeeded her in 2005 as she prepared to take up the role of Chairperson 2006-2009.  In 2009 I stepped into the first of the two Vice-Chair positions I held on the IMIA-NI Board before taking up the Chairperson role until 2016. I am proud to now be an Honorary member of IMIA-NI.

In summary, it was my enquiring mind and desire for efficiency in the hospital systems to enable improved patient outcomes, which set me on my informatics route.  As nurses we should not undervalue the clinical and health systems knowledge we have and how important our role is in the partnership with other professional groups in health and IT.  We must always have a vision of the big picture, but an understanding of the steps required to achieve this. Informatics leads to interactions with a diverse range of people and roles.  Remember that they are experts in their own fields as you are in yours. You need an understanding of their field, but you do not need to be an expert, as the goals are achieved by team work and respect for the role everyone plays.