Editorial: Nursing Informatics: The State of the Art?

By

Dee McGonigle, Editor-in-Chief

As another edition of OJNI is being launched, many questions arise about the state of nursing informatics (NI). Where is NI and what is forecasted for the future?

Are we using technology to our best advantage? Do the infrastructures we have produce high performance? Are they secure? Can they support and adapt as needed and are they sustainable?

Currently, in NI we must assess our discipline specific needs, knowledge, knowledge structures and decision-making. What is the relationship of NI to our professional culture? How do we, as nurses, use and share data, information and knowledge? Where are we in the state of development and use of standards -- languages, systems, communications -- within our own discipline, interfacing with the larger healthcare arena in our own country and on an international scale?

As I lead and sometimes as I’m dragged along on projects from online course development through creating interactive virtual environments, it is clear to me that we are in the midst of another change in NI. We are looking for a more collaborative and cooperative culture and are moving more toward repositories. There are a wide variety of repositories from those containing learning objects to clinical data. The potency of the repository concept is in the ability to re-use and re-purpose instead of re-creating. Reflecting on this change, the question that comes to mind is, will these repositories be internationally generated and accessible?

Do we tend to be informatics realists or idealists? Realistic NI professionals navigate the waters cautiously and look at the benefit/risk ratio before investing in any new technology while the idealist strives for a more perfect informatics world where capabilities abound and barriers are eliminated. Realists and idealists needed - please submit your contributions to OJNI and share your expertise with the NI community!

Legislation and advancements in healthcare impact HI and NI. It will be our applied informatics skills that will continue to keep NI in the forefront. Legal and ethical issues continue to compound as the healthcare technologies evolve and extend globally. The judicial systems and ethicists must continue to explore and grapple with new challenges as HI and NI navigate through these murky waters. Questions abound and answers, if available, are perspective and situation based. The future direction of NI remains in the direction of electronic data, information and knowledge management, transfer and representation. How it will be shaped remains in the hands of the brave, cutting-edge NI leaders.