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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Take the Pledge on Healthcare IT

Published September 4, 2012 4:50 PM by Rich Krisher
As she prepared the manuscript for our recent Learning Scope continuing education offering, "Consumer-Driven Healthcare," author Kay Bensing, MA, RN, and I had spirited discussions about the content. Her article focuses on how nurses can help consumers use data on quality to empower themselves to navigate the healthcare system.

While we agreed on the need for more reliable and accessible quality information, we diverged when it came to money. She believes healthcare consumers are interested in the costs of their care and want to use information about cost and quality to seek out the best options. I contend the vast majority of those covered by public or private healthcare plans might shake their heads when they see how much the third-party payer spent on their care, but aren't positioned or inclined to do comparative shopping.

The American Nurses Association is moving the conversation in the right direction. The rise of information technology in healthcare holds promise to promote enhanced quality and efficiency. The association is asking nurses to sign a four-point pledge to access their own health information to verify its accuracy and completeness, use that information to "share in the decision-making process for both clinical and financial decisions about my health," educate others about how to access their health information, and support the IT movement in healthcare.

The idea is nurses will be better able to help patients take the same steps and better manage their own healthcare. Getting hands-on exposure to your own healthcare information is a terrific first step to help patients make their way through the coming changes in our healthcare system, which are sure to demand greater knowledge and participation from all involved.

Do you agree nurses should take the lead in accessing and analyzing their own health information? Will doing so eventually help patients share in clinical and financial decisions regarding their healthcare?

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