Close Server: KOPWWW05 | Not logged in

Welcome to Health Care POV | sign in | join
Nursing Informatics & Technology: A Blog for All Levels of Users

Building Healthy Communities Via Technology
October 27, 2016 9:36 AM by Susan Sportsman
Nurses have an important role to play in the healthy community movement. The design, construction, and growth of healthy communities require nurses to build a diverse set of skills in informatics, data analytics, public health, and the social determinants of health.

Healthy communities emerge

Healthy communitiesalso known as healthy places or environmentsare "designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borderswhere every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options," according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).  

Healthy community design, which is championed by the American Planning Association, preserves natural and cultural resources; distributes development costs; expands transportation, housing, and employment; ensures sustainability; and promotes public health and healthy communities.

Surfing "the second wave"

The healthcare industry already sees healthy communities as the "second wave of population health," says the Healthy Communities Institute. While more traditional population health focuses on chronic disease management and health promotion, the concept of healthy communities is anchored in a more expansive set of criteria, according to a guide from the American Hospital Association. Among the healthy community standards are the following:

  • Value-based reimbursement
  • Seamless care across all settings
  • Proactive, systematic patient education
  • Workplace education on population health
  • HIT that supports risk stratification of patients
  • Partnerships for community-based solutions

Equally important is the growing list of "social determinants of health," which include variables like housing, access to care, literacy, incarceration, environment, poverty, education, and insurance coverage, according to the American Publication Health Association and Healthy People 2020.

Technology enables healthy communities    

Hospitals, health systems, public health departments, and community and employer coalitions will increasingly tap data from clinical visits, healthcare claims, and community-level assessments to strengthen healthy communities.   

Doing so will deliver more accurate, timely insights into demographics, risk factors, and the distribution of diseases like congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, diabetes, and obesity.

With a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health in specific neighborhoods, communities, and service areas, nurses can design and adapt interventions to improve health outcomes.

Technology for Healthy Communities, which focuses on "connecting communities with sustainable health technologies," has already identified technologies needed to improve community health. Among them are the following:

  • Social determinants of health screening and analytics
  • Remote monitoring
  • Telehealth
  • Education and engagement
  • Chronic disease management
  • Community health decision support

How can nurses thrive in an environment focused on value-based care, population health, and building healthy communities? Among the recommendations for training and education are the following:

Form an interprofessional collaborative to pursue healthy community design and improvement. Get started by reviewing the CDC's Healthy Community Design Checklist.
Demand for the Interprofessional Team
September 28, 2016 9:41 AM by Susan Sportsman

Achieving technology-enabled healthcare transformation means involving nurses in interprofessional teams. These teams increasingly tackle challenges ranging from data storage, genomic information, cyber-attacks and interoperability to meaningful use, security, reimbursement shifts, and unique patient identifiers.

Nursing schools and healthcare organizations (HCOs) that hire and retain nurses should consider creating team-building modules, tutorials, coaching programs, and online courses that feature team-building content, tools, and exercises. Among the concepts schools and HCOs should include are the following:

Start out rightthe I-Team kick-off

Goal-setting: Nurses who join and participate in informatics (I)-teams should ensure that team goals align with broader HCO goals and strategiesfrom value-based care and patient engagement to cybersecurity and clinical integration. They should also verify that the I-Team is in sync with the HCO's mission, vision, and values.

Sponsor: Be sure to identify the I-Team's sponsorCIO, CNO, CNIO, CMIO, or faculty memberwith a focus on the individual's roles, responsibilities, expectations, and support in the form of time, funding, or human and material resources.

Membership: Create an I-Team that's small enoughless than 10 peopleto generate connection and interdependence. Choose content and process experts and end users with diverse knowledge, skill, and experience as team members. And be sure to aim for a mix of skillsHIT, group dynamics, and leadership, for examplealong with unit, department, division, or specialty representation.

Launch pad: Use a kick-off event to help I-Team members grasp team goals, mission, and structure and generate team momentum and productivity. Whether such an event takes the form of a one-day off-site retreat or a mid-week lunch-and-learn session, it should help create consensus around I-Team deliverables, roles, responsibilities, and success factors.

Success Factors

1. Delineate the I-Team's mission. Consider addressing the following questions: Why did executive or nursing management bring us together as a team and what must we accomplish? How will processes, systems, and/or outcomes change as a result of this team's work? How will the team know that it has achieved its mission and goals? Or, how can this team best measure its success over time? Whatever your answers, make sure the I-Team's mission statement is simple, brief, and easily understood by team members and management.

2. Develop I-Team goals. While the I-Team's mission statement offers broad guiding principles, its goals direct team members' activities. As most nurses know, the best goals meet the criteria of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-boundSMART. In other words, it's not enough to say "improve patient engagement." Team members must zero in on the function or behavior they want to reduce or enhance in a measurable way over a specific timeframe.

3. Identify I-Team roles and responsibilities. Only when I-Team members fully understand expectations do they develop mutual accountability and trust in the team. Enter the I-Team leader, the person whom the sponsor holds accountable for the team's results. The team leader typically speaks for the team and coordinates its work, although a facilitator sometimes guides the team's process, sets agendas, and runs meetings.

4. Set team ground rules. Make sure the I-Team knows how its members will work together by creating behavior guidelines or ground rules. Among the issues for discussion are the following:

  • Communication during meetings: How will I-Team members communicate during meetings? Examples: Is it OK to interrupt someone who wants to weigh in on predictive analytics when the discussion is focused on patient engagement? Should the leader or facilitator call on team members before they speak? Are side conversations allowed or encouraged?
  • Communication between meetings: How should I-Team members communicate between meetings? Examples: Must team members respond to phone calls or e-mails within 12 hours? Should e-mails conform to specific length, content, structure, or style requirements? Should a team member copy every other team member on decisions or progress made?
  • Respectful communication: How should I-Team members demonstrate dignity and respect? Should they honor time limits, avoid interruptions, focus discussions, or offer evidence in support of assertions?

5. Create decision-making guidelines. I-Team members need a model or framework that addresses two questions: Who will make decisions for the team and how will other team members be involved in decision making? More specifically, will the team make decisions via consensus, where everyone agrees to support the final decision? Or will the team leader make the final decision after securing input from every team member? Or will team members vote on decisions? Only when I-Team members know what is expected of them and what to expect from the decision-making process will they be able to support and implement a final decision.

Also, make sure that all I-Team decisions meet the criteria of quality and commitment. Quality informatics-related decisions deserve support in the form of accurate, timely, evidence-based data and information, which team members can verify by asking the following questions: Has the I-Team gathered and shared all relevant information on the informatics challenge under discussion? Has the leader consulted with all I-Team members before making a decision? Has the I-Team sought input from end-users or stakeholders who might be affected by the team's decision?

Every team member should support or demonstrate commitment to the decision. Among the issues include: Does each I-Team member agree with the decision? Is each team member committed to implementation of the decision? Do team members understand and accept their roles and responsibilities in decision execution?

By adhering to the success factors noted above, nurses at all levels of experience will have the satisfaction of being part of teams that resolve informatics challenges and drive healthcare transformation.


The Kinds of Teams Healthcare Needs:

The best way to improve healthcare is with a small, dedicated team:

Leadership development team-building tips for nurse managers:

Collaborative healthcare, how nurses work in team-based settings:

Team-building essentials:

Building blocks of teamwork:

Technology Will Ameliorate the Nursing Shortage
August 25, 2016 8:53 AM by Susan Sportsman
The nursing shortage is real and growing. More than one million vacancies for RNs will emerge between 2014 and 2022, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. By 2025, the shortage of nurses will reach unprecedented levels, says the Bureau of Health Professions.

Technology is emerging as an ally and toolnot only for current and prospective nurses but also for nurse leaders within healthcare organizations (HCOs) that seek professionals with the required skills, competencies and passion for the nursing profession.

New Tech Changes the Game

America, it seems, is in the midst of three technological revolutions according to the Pew Research Center:  broadband, mobile and social media, with even more revolutions on the horizon.

Generation Yknown in the popular press as Millennialsgrew up and came of age during these unprecedented tech disruptions. They accessed data, information and entertainment via technology. They went to school and learned via technology. And they continue to think, create and even feel via technology.

Not surprisingly, these Millennials tend to eschew traditional marketing and nurse recruitment tactics. Instead, they seek transparency, pose challenging questions and access answers via social media and online communities.

The same is true of even younger members of Generation Z. They endorse influencer marketing, mobile technologies, informed shopping and near-instant gratification.

Members of Generation Z are "independent, stubborn, pragmatic, and always in a rush," says Business Insider and "so hooked into the digital world that some academics have nicknamed them ‘the mutants.'"

Connecting to Up-and-Coming Nurses

Attracting members of these new generations means connecting with them through a highly selective "social media ecosystem," according to a survey from marketing agency Fluent Group. On the top of the list: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

The same social media zeal applies to Millennials, who turn to Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook over Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ or Tumblr, according to Business Insider. They also find career guidance on sites like Levo, The Muse and Flexjobs.

Nursing professionals can use the same strategies to reach out to young parents via social media channels comparable to sites like Working Mother or Modern Mom. They also can build a presence within minority communities through social media channels allied with publications like Ebony, Essence, Jet or Black Enterprise.

Nursing schools will attract Generation Y and Z students by showcasing emerging educational technologiesfrom virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing, to sophisticated simulations, social games and interactive online textbooks. Just as exciting are educational innovations like competency-based learning, skills measurement, alternative learning styles and flipped learning.

Both nursing schools and HCOs can attract nursing talent via websites and online communities. Millennials, in particular, seek websites and social media destinations with the following characteristics, according to IDG Research:

  • Dazzling, attention-getting graphics
  • Brief, well-written, easy-to-understand content
  • Engaged communities of users

Providing Quality Information

Despite their disdain for the traditional, Millennials have standards. They seek content that meets the criteria of mobility, reliability, accuracy, freedom from bias, candor and use of multiple viewpoints and respected sources.

HCOs committed to attracting nurse talent can zero in on their tech assets, making a solid connection between tech and Magnet status, quality and outcomes. Other website and social media suggestions include the following:

  • Focus on Tech: Emphasize the integration, use and benefits of varied types of technology throughout the healthcare enterpriseespecially how technologies interface with and involve nurses.
  • Illuminate Nursing: Showcase the nurse's role in technology needs assessment, planning, selection, implementation, education and sustainability.
  • Develop Professionally: Offer ongoing opportunities for online and tech-based nursing career guidance and clinical advancement.
  • Engage with Visuals: Rely on video to explore nursing trends and introduce nurse leaders within the HCO.
  • Send Kudos: Profile nurses with a demonstrated commitment to technology-driven innovation, including the use of social media, mobile and online learning.
  • Tell Stories: Invite nurses to share stories of tech-facilitated patient care, education, engagement and mission fulfillment.

Continued Interest

Once HCOs recruit nurses, retention becomes the number one priority. HCOs can build loyalty by inviting nurses to join their colleagues in technology evaluation, development, implementation, education and promotion. Other ideas for retention include the following:

  • Advocacy: Invite nurses to become technology ambassadors who share tech features, functions, risks, benefits and potential results with internal and external audiences.
  • Community: Build online communities where nurses can connect with each other and with interdisciplinary colleagues about shared challenges, trends and goals like care collaboration, data exchange, outpatient care or patient safety.
  • Teaching: Invite nurses to become tech mentors and coaches, zeroing in on opportunities, barriers and potential crises of technologies like electronic health records or mobile devices.
  • Education: Offer online education in new and emerging technologies, as well as hot button issues like privacy, security, health information exchange, electronic health records and mobile.

As healthcare and the world become more connected, technology will continue to play an integral role in attracting nursing prospects.

When Mannequins Bleed: Clinical Simulation Transforms Nursing
July 28, 2016 10:26 AM by Susan Sportsman
Simulation is both a nursing education strategy and a tool to evaluate nurses' knowledge and competence. Simulation delivers technology-based experiential learning, putting the focus on evidence and outcomes rather than process and instruction. At a time when faculty shortages plague nursing education, simulation prepares new and existing nurses for the changing healthcare workplace, while ensuring the safety and well-being of patients and families.

Looking to the Leaders

Among those institutions in the vanguard of simulation is the University of Michigan School of Nursing, which recently launched a clinical learning center with six simulation rooms featuring high fidelity mannequins.

Nurses learn by trial-and-error as they perform procedures like drug administration or suctioning secretions from the trachea. Instructors who sit behind a bank of screens and two-way mirrors introduce physiological responses in high-tech mannequins. After participating in simulations, students take part in debriefing sessions with dedicated simulation faculty.      

Simulation programs have proliferated thanks to the leadership of entities like the Regional RISE Center of Robert Morris University, which was launched in 2009 as an educational resource and center of excellence for simulation training and research.

Equally important is the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning, which works toward "advancing the science of healthcare simulation," and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which conducted a national study of simulation in nursing that resulted in the development of national simulation guidelines.

Expanding Choices and Benefits

Nursing faculty and students now have an expanded array of simulation technologies to choose from, including computer-based simulations, virtual/standardized and human patient simulations. Research acknowledges the drawbacks of simulation, including lack of realism, limited human interaction and incomplete patient symptoms. However, research and practical experience also point to a myriad of benefits for patients and nurses:

  • Simulation improves nurses' confidence and competence in numerous nursing competencies.
  • Simulation eases nurses' transition to new work environments.
  • Simulation could help reduce the rate of C-section deliveries by preparing for birthing emergencies through a mobile simulation lab.
  • NCSBN's national simulation study confirmed that faculty is able to substitute up to 50% simulation for traditional clinical experiences in all core nursing courses. Moreover, substituting simulation for clinical experience seems to have no impact on NCLEX pass rates.

Forward to the Future

Simulation has a bright future as educators determine how to integrate classroom learning, simulation and clinical experience for transfer application to the real-world of care delivery. For example, virtual reality delivered in the context of nurse-friendly games will enable nurses to practice complex medical procedures, like catheter insertions, multiple times and at their own pace.

Nursing students at Boise State University already see virtual reality as a fun, competitive way to learn. They find it is better able to deliver real-time feedback, especially when compared to medical mannequins, which faculty perceive as less cost effective, considering their price tag of between $15,000 and $64,000.

The compelling aspect of virtual reality is its ability to transport learners into environments they wouldn't otherwise access, according to the New Media Consortium in its 2016 Horizon Report. The bottom line: Virtual reality will have a profound impact on nursing education, offering faculty and students fresh opportunities to interact with course content in three-dimensional learning environments.

Learning More

Nurses can master simulation by taking advantage of multiple programs. The Regional RISE Center of Robert Morris University offers a certificate program in simulation instruction and management, along with courses in TeamSTEPPS. Meanwhile, the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning fosters learning through its best practice standards, webinars, journal and online resource library.

Nursing schools, colleges and universities increasingly offer programs in simulation development, learning, management and research. Consider the following options:

Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a certificate in simulation, while Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is committed to "bridging the gap between academe and clinical practice" via education, research and inter-professional training.

The UCLA Simulation Center offers courses in clinical nursing and team training, as well as a nursing simulation lab within the UCLA School of Nursing. Simulation centers like those sponsored by UCLA and Harvard offer simulation experiences for nurses and other clinicians.  

Similar programs are available through the University of Texas at El Paso School of Nursing, St. David's School of Nursing at Texas State University, and the University of Virginia's School of Nursing Clinical Simulation Center.

If you're not ready for a complete academic program, check out nursing simulation conferences like those offered by the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning, Society for Simulation in Healthcare and Boise State University. 

Simulation has a bright future in nursing education. As nursing evolves, simulation will evolve as an education and training tool and strategy too. For now, simulation remains a highly effective teaching and learning method that improves outcomes and reinforces a culture of safety among nursing staff.
Remote Patient Monitoring: Nurses in Charge
June 23, 2016 9:37 AM by Susan Sportsman


The remote patient monitoring (RPM) revolution is here. RPM uses technology to collect data from an individual in one location-a patient at home, for example-and then transmits that information to a healthcare professional at another location. 

The RPM market will surge in the coming years due, in part, to the aging of the population, chronic lifestyle-related conditions and pressures to contain costs, reports Persistence Market Research. RPM will continue to embrace wearable, stand-alone and implantable devices.

Opportunity plus results    

RPM offers nurses the tools to collect vital signs like a patient's weight, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and blood glucose and oxygen.  Nurses' roles range from patient education and support and monitoring to care decision making and coordination.    

Mayo Clinic, for example, has already reduced the number of in-person prenatal visits via RPM. Mayo's OB Nest combines eight in-person appointments with six virtual visits with a nurse via phone or e-mail.  Home monitoring equipment tracks fetal heart rate and maternal blood pressure. 

The Mayo program allows providers to spend more time with high-risk patients and boosts patient satisfaction while reducing the time required for multiple patient check-ins. Other RPM benefits cited by the Center for Technology and Aging and the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology include admissions and readmissions prevention, chronic condition management and avoidance of skilled nursing facilities and other, more costly forms of care.

That's not to say that RPM implementation is easy. Adoption barriers include device design and affordability and reimbursement by payers. Other roadblocks cited by the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) include a perceived shortage of caregivers and low education and literary levels among some patient populations.  

The age of RPM

RPM takes many forms. MedStar Visiting Nurse Association, for example, relies on its In-Home Health Monitoring Program to monitor patients in between nurse and therapy visits. Patients use a remote monitoring device to record vital signs and other health information, which they send to RPM nurses via phone or Internet. 

Centura's Health at Home relies on Cardiocom's RPM technology to monitor patients with diabetes, CHF and COPD. Nurses serve some patients through a 24/7 clinical call center while targeting others via three weekly phone calls that review medications and patient understanding and actions, according to the Center of Technology and Aging‘s Measuring Return on Investment of Remote Patient Monitoring. 

Other initiatives are more expansive. The University of Southern California's (USC) Center for Body Computing has laid the groundwork for "borderless medicine" with its virtual care clinic, according to MHealth Intelligence. Among the clinic's tech tools are wearable sensors, mobile apps, augmented and virtual reality, virtual providers, data collection and analytics and artificial intelligence.

Nurses could participate in what some have labeled "hologram house calls," beaming their image in real time to a patient in another location.  Adds Leslie Saxon, MD, executive director of USC's Center for Body Computing:  "We can provide patients around the globe with healthcare where there's never been any. And we can provide patients with the type of data they need and information they need to be in command of their healthcare story."

RPM Nursing Ed   

Nurses can access RPM knowledge via numerous channels, including the following:

HIT Associations: Check out nursing programs presented by HIT organizations like HIMSS, as well as  more general programs related to nursing priorities like care coordination.  The American Telemedicine Association hosts a Remote Patient monitoring and Telehealth SIG.

Nursing associationsVisiting nurse associations throughout the country have integrated varied RPM programs into their services. Some are multidisciplinary partnerships.  The Center on Technology and Aging, for example, cites a program involving the New England Healthcare Institute, Atrius Health the Visiting Nurses Association.

Guidelines and cases:  Study guidelines and recommendations for RPM programs. Also review case examples and studies like UCLA Health, which involves nurses in RPM.

Conferences/modules:  Among the educational resources that could benefit nurses are the Telehealth and RPM Summit, telehealth symposia sponsored by individual states and the RPM learning modules like the one offered via Stratis Health.

Publications:  Scan nursing publications and articles in the popular and trade press.  Coverage of RPM trends and benefits appears in publications as varied as the Wall Street Journal, Medical Economics and mHealthIntelligence.

Connecting the Dots 

Barriers to the proliferation of RPM relate to design, cost, reimbursement, security, staffing and research on outcomes. Still,  the U.S. RPM market is on the upswing, projected to reach slightly less than $1 billion by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research.  Nurses can play a vital role-both in RPM system planning, selection and implementation and linking RPM to initiatives in population health management and building accountable communities.

Additional RPM Resources

  • Partners Healthcare Connected Cardiac Care
  • Essentia Health, Duluth, MN
  • Alere Inraitio2
  • MobileHelp CareAngel
  • HeadRehab
Technology-Enabled Population Health: Emerging Roles for Nurses
May 19, 2016 1:14 PM by Susan Sportsman

Population health management (PHM) and the emergence of accountable health communities will revitalize nurses' career options. Healthcare organizations (HCOs) will seek nurses with the knowledge, skill and experience to tackle PHM and engineer behavior change. Among the positions nurses will seek within provider, payer, community and government entities:   

  • Integrated Case Manager
  • Care Transitions Coach
  • Nurse Care Coordinator
  • Population Management Life Coach  
  • Population Health Manager
  • Behavioral Population Health Manager    
  • Accountable Community Specialist
  • Population Health Education Specialist
  • Chief Population Health Officer

See, for example, the position description for a population health nurse (PHN) at Mercy Health, Cincinnati:

"The Population Health Nurse (PHN) will provide for the identification and ongoing management of clients who have disease management/wellness needs. The PHN will provide coaching to support and motivate members to make lifestyle changes to decrease health risk factors and manage chronic disease through telephonic, face to face, and e-coach education. The PHN goal is to establish long term relationships with employers and enlist the active participation of the assigned departments within the company to support health and wellness activities within the company. The PHN will provide on-site consultation to employers on health plan performance and design, and employee educational needs."

Population Health:  An Opening Door 

PHM is on the upswing. The PHM space will hit $31.36 billion by 2020 with an annual growth rate of 23.2 percent, according to Markets and Markets. Close to 70 percent of HCOs have already invested in PHM, according to a 2015 survey from HIMSS Analytics, specifically in health and wellness and chronic disease management. 

And yet, many healthcare professionals question the function, scope and evolution of PHM, says the 2016 study from Numerof & Associates. Among the issues noted by HealthITAnalytics

Definition and scope: Just what is PHM?  

Components: What is the relationship between PHM and chronic disease management, health information technology, quality reporting and patient-provider communications?

Payoffs: What are the advantages, benefits and incentives of PHM? How does PHM relate to value-based accountable care?     

Nurses can prepare for a PHM-dominated future by tracking the following technologies: 

Electronic health records (EHR) for PHM: Learn how providers and payers use EHRs for PHM, paying special attention to the longitudinal care, health or medical record that incorporates clinical, patient generated and claims data and facilitates collaborative decision making among caregivers.         

Data collection for PHM: Prepare to go beyond the collection of standard patient clinical and demographic data to the collection and integration of genomic and pharmaceutical data and information on the "social determinants of health," defined as "environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes." Factors include economic stability, education, social and community context, health and healthcare and neighborhood and environment-all of which interact to shape the health of individuals and communities.

Analytics for PHM: Prepare to use analytics to target high-risk patients, monitor costs, track patient compliance and change, evaluate caregiver performance and verify transitions in care. Thirty-three percent of health IT executives cited data analytics as the biggest issue of 2014, while 32 percent named population health management, according to the fourth annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey conducted by Stoltenberg Consulting.

Engagement for PHM: Engagement technology can facilitate team-based care across the continuum and involve patients in health tracking and individual and family health decision making. Over half of healthcare professionals are using patient engagement technology, according to the 2015 HIMSS Connected Health Survey, while close to 70 percent of survey respondents report sending data between patients and providers.       

Emerging tech in PHM: Be aware of technologies such as fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR), which "would allow developers to write apps that would extend the capabilities of electronic health records, give patients direct access to their own records and create a more solid basis for interoperability, according to CIO's article on FHIR in healthcare.

Also on deck is cognitive computing, which some experts label "the future of healthcare." Cognitive computing "aims to mimic the way the human brain can draw connections between seemingly unrelated pieces" and "generate decisions that take the user's intentions into consideration," according to HealthITAnalytics. The outcome is better decisions based on data than people could ever make on their own.

Forward to the Future

Nurses can look forward to a bright future as PHM professionals. Consider the following resources for information and education:   

  • Investigate certificate programs: A growing number of nursing schools offer courses and certificates in population care and management. Duke University School of Nursing, for example, offers the Duke Population Care Coordinator program, which zeroes in on care coordination, team collaboration, patient engagement and multilevel process.   
  • Enroll in online courses: Loyola University New Orleans online teaches population focused healthcare in its RN/MSN programs. The course focuses in empowerment, primary, secondary and tertiary prevention and team-based care.
  • Track national initiatives: The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) has partnered with the CDC to fund a series of programs aimed at strengthening the public health nursing workforce.
  • Zero in on emerging competencies: The American Association of Nurse Executives (AONE) has developed a series of competencies related to PHM, including information management, technology and data. Among the goals:      
  • Embrace comprehensive data that impact the success of PHM; articulate the links between metrics and goal.
  • Promote nursing involvement in IT system choices for the practice environment.
  • Translate data into actionable information to support PHM initiatives.


Reaching the Endgame: Total Population Health:

Why is Nursing's Voice Absent from Population Health Strategy:

Tips for Nurses Leading Move to Population Health:

What Is Population Health and How Does It Compare to Public Health?

The Civic Side of Population Health Management:

Telemedicine Slated to Transform Nursing
April 7, 2016 1:13 PM by Susan Sportsman
Telemedicine will emerge as a $34 billion market by 2020, according to research from  Mordor Intelligence, helping care providers improve care outcomes, enhance access and manage costs.  

Telemedicine's growth will also change how nurses serve patients and consumers in an environment shaped by value-based, accountable care and ongoing pressures to generate revenue, cut costs, and enhance patient satisfaction and engagement.

Among the dominant short-term telemedicine trends are the following:

Support:  Government and societal support for telemedicine will escalate, allowing more nurses to get involved in the delivery of telemedicine services.  Legislators introduced some 200 telehealth bills in 2015, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures . Physicians can now practice telemedicine across state lines thanks to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact from the Federation of State Medical Boards. Such compacts will touch diverse healthcare professionals, including nurses, through the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact.

Accreditation/Coding: Nurses involved in telemedicine will confront issues ranging from accreditation to coding.   The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) offers varied levels of accreditation to telemedicine providers.   Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has added  codes for telemedicine services-some six in 2015.  Nurses will help monitor how well healthcare organizations (HCOs) comply with telemedicine standards while ensuring proper coding for telemedicine services.        

Expansion: Telemedicine will surface within multiple care settings, enhancing the likelihood of nurses' involvement.    Telemedicine will spread from hospitals and physician practices to retail, urgent care and on-site employee clinics. Employers plan to expand their use of telemedicine, according to a survey from Towers Watson.  Meanwhile, retailers like Target, Walgreens and CVS will offer telemedicine through in-store clinics, predicts mHealth Intelligence.   

Telemedicine will also expand globally, the result of partnerships between hospitals, health systems and academic medical centers in the U.S. and abroad.  Experts predict that the global telemedicine market will experience a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of close to 19 percent in 2016, according to P and S Market Research.

Technology:  Telemedicine will no longer function as a stand-alone or add-on technology.   Expect telemedicine vendors to pitch benefits like integration with electronic health record systems, data collection and analytics and support for multiple medical specialties and professions, according to Health Data Management.  Such innovations will enable providers to use telemedicine to manage costs and improve quality, access and outcomes.

Consider, for example, how telemedicine could enhance patient and consumer experience and engagement.   Providers could use telemedicine in all phases of care:  prevention, including information dissemination, education and, coaching, as well as diagnosis, treatment, recovery and health maintenance.     

Many questions remain unanswered, including the following:

  • Who should and will pay for telemedicine? Should payers reimburse for all telemedicine or just specific services? The controversy is likely to continue.
  • How could telemedicine enhance the management of chronic disease patients in rural and remote areas?
  • How much will patients and consumers benefit from telemedicine? Will it remain a service for the upper middle and affluent classes? Or will an aging population accelerate widespread telemedicine adoption?
  • Will telemedicine fulfill its promise and potential? How much will it improve care outcomes? Enhance patients' access to high quality specialty care? Control or reduce healthcare costs? The jury is still out, but initial reports are positive.

Despite these issues, the future of telemedicine is bright.   Telemedicine use continues to grow among healthcare professionals, according to Assessing the Value of Telemedicine Devices in Today's Healthcare Landscape from Aeris, an Internet of things (IoT) and mobile-to-mobile vendor.

"As more individuals choose to ‘age in place,' adopting telemedicine is a valuable solution that gives patients the freedom to move, without disrupting their lives unnecessarily with costly hospital and doctor visits," say Janet Jaiswal of  Aeris. "While barriers to adoption remain, such as investing in the technology and patient acceptance of the technology, we remain confident about the future of telemedicine."

Nurses who want to stay engaged with the trend toward telemedicine should consider the following actions: 

Inform:  Do everything you can to inform patients and consumers about the value and benefits of telemedicine.  Forty-one percent of consumers have never heard of telemedicine, according to a survey in Healthcare Informatics.

Make the case:  Counter naysayers by sharing telemedicine's positive results in terms of outcomes, access, equity, quality and cost control.  For example, telemedicine helped one VA hospital save $64K a year, according to mHealth Intelligence.  Widespread adoption of telemedicine could save some $6 billion annually, according to forecasts from CGI Research.

Get involved:   Take part in the telemedicine decision-making process, sharing best practices like market assessments, mission alignment, clinician champions, management support, training, outcomes measurement and system integration.   Investigate how you and nursing colleagues can plug into critical steps outlined by AMD Global Telemedicine or the ATA's Telemedicine Practice Guidelines.



Telehealth Nursing Fact Sheet (American Telemedicine Association)


Telehealth Nursing Practice (American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing)


ICU Nurses Report Telemedicine Improves Patient Care


2016: Telehealth Trends for Nurse Practitioners



How Telemedicine Is Changing the Nursing Industry










Drones Enter the Lives and Careers of Nurses
March 22, 2016 10:51 AM by Susan Sportsman

Drones are far more than toys. Drones will transform diverse areas of life, including business, defense, education, entertainment, and, of course, health and medicine. Drones will also transform the role and function of nurses and other healthcare professionals. Just consider the possibilities: 

Education: Educators from diverse disciplines have incorporated drones in curricula and research projects. Building on developments by institutions like University of Pennsylvania's GRASP/Lab and Embrie Riddle, some educators have started loaning drones to students. Drones have the power to deliver books and learning resources to remote and rural areas and facilitate healthcare research and surveillance via aerial drone photography.

Look for more nursing educators and trainers to mobilize drones to support research and data gathering. Consider, for example, how drones could support research on the social determinants of health within Native American, Latino, African American and high-utilizer neighborhoods and communities.  

And think of how educators could offer "birds-eye views" of complex U.S. healthcare facilities-from Ascension Health, Catholic Health Initiatives and Kaiser Permanente to Adventist Health System, Dignity Health and Trinity Health, as well as healthcare environments in countries like Vietnam, India and Cameroon.  

Health, Medicine and the Environment: 2015 was a breakthrough year for humanitarian applications of drone technology. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) sponsored the first Drones for Good competition, which was won by a drone designed to rescue people in tight spaces.

Researchers in Norway have mobilized drones to measure the impact of climate change, while Nepalese professionals have mapped earthquake damage with drones. Following extensive flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, researchers from Texas A & M, Corpus Christi relied on drones for search and rescue operations. Meanwhile, rescuers in Maine used a drone to carry a lifejacket to boys stranded in the middle of a raging river.

Among the more specific healthcare applications of drones are the following:   

Medications, supplies and lab tests: Drones have already begun to pick up specimens and return them to labs for analysis. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University were worried that the sudden acceleration or hard landing of a drone might destroy blood cells or cause blood to coagulate. However, research confirmed that drones could take on the delicate task.

Rural and remote healthcare/global health: Drones are likely to enhance healthcare delivery in developing countries and remote or impoverished areas of the U.S. While drones may not drop packages at the entrances of Chicago high-rises, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have delivered supplies to earthquake victims in Haiti and to places like Papua New Guinea.

Mayo Clinic predicts increased use of drones to transport blood products and drugs in response to mass casualty incidents and critical access hospital needs. Consider the benefits of drone-delivered defibrillators, organs, medications and medical supplies. 

Telemedicine: Healthcare Integrated Rescue Operations (HIRO) is the first telemedical drone designed for rescue operations. Professionals could use drones to enter areas with suspected outbreaks of Ebola or Dengue fever. Within the U.S., an injured skier could call 911 to trigger the dispatch of a telemedical drone. The drone would transmit video of the skier's injuries, while a smartphone would allow the skier to communicate directly with a healthcare professional.

Fighting Fires: Drones will serve on the frontlines of fighting fires and other natural disasters that threaten our health and well-being. Federal government officials are already looking at drones to fight forest fires in the West.  Others see value in wall-climbing drones that could locate the sources of fires in high-rise buildings and the individuals who are still trapped inside.   

Prevention: Drones will be indispensable in injury and accident prevention. A Texas inventor is exploring how drones could prevent pool drownings while lifeguards already view drones as vital in shark-spotting and prevention of beach-related accidents.  

Police departments increasingly rely on drones to clear traffic accident sites. Drones accelerate the photography of accident scenes, editing hundreds of photos into a multidimensional map. Insurance companies can also settle claims quicker and more efficiently.

Forward to the Future

As nurses look forward to a future where drones are active participants, they may witness myriad problems-from privacy, security and designated delivery spots to traffic patterns, durability and licensing. However, nurses can become part of the drone revolution if they take action on the following: 

  • Learn as much as possible about drones; specifically, how professionals can use them in health and medicine. Health information technology publications increasingly cover drones, including the relationship between drones and technologies like virtual reality.
  • Review typical health, medical and environmental challenges. Consider how drone technology could address problems of quality, cost, access, safety, efficiency and equity.
  • Avoid myths and stereotypes. Many people assume that drones look like airplanes. Drones might resemble balloons or function as manned vehicles. A Chinese company called eHang is already testing drones that can carry humans.

Susan Sportsman, PhD, RN, ANEF is the Director of the Academic Consulting Group, an innovative service of Elsevier. Sportsman is also currently the Co-Chair of the Texas Team Advancing Health Through Nursing Education Committee and a member of the Texas Board of Nursing Advisory Committee on Education. She was recently selected as a Fellow in the National League for Nursing Academy of Nurse Educators.


Educators loan drones to students:

Drones deliver books to remote and rural areas:

Drones for Good competition:

Drones help scientists measure the impact of climate change:

Drones map earthquake damage:

Drones for search and rescue operations:

Drones deliver lifejacket to boys stranded in the river:

Study shows successful transport of blood samples with small drones: 

Drones could prevent pool drownings:

Drones can carry humans:


Virtual Reality – For Nurses, the Future Is Now
March 7, 2016 2:02 PM by Susan Sportsman

Discussions about virtual reality (VR) often center on the technology; specifically, sophisticated headsets like Oculus Rift, which was showcased at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While VR is still in its infancy, many innovations will surface in 2016, supported by conversations about VR's health and medical applications. Experts predict that the VR market will soar to $15.89 billion by 2020, according to MarketsandMarkets. Following are just some of the ways nurse professionals may experience VR:   

Education and training in nursing knowledge, skill and competencies: Look for VR to transform education and training of healthcare professionals as well as consumer and patient education. Products like Oculus Rift and Magic Leap will transport nurse learners into diverse learning environments-from a third-world country, natural disaster zone or elderly patient's home to inside the human heart, brain or nervous system. Among the applications are:   

  • Training for specific environments: The British government already relies on VR to train medics for battle. Nurses may rely on VR to prepare for future roles and assignments in labor and delivery, trauma, surgery or mental health.
  • Making choices and taking risks: Virtual reality will allow nurses to rehearse choices as they evaluate risks and benefits. National Grid, for example, relies on Virtalis VR to facilitate decisions about tools and protective gear. VR will be a major draw for would-be nurses and Millennials who grew up in the era of the X-Box and look forward to compelling, immersive education and training experiences.

Product and service design and development. VR will accelerate and transform team-based collaboration, allowing nurses to create tools, devices, systems and care environments. The die has already been cast. Ford Motor Company already uses VR in automotive design, while Caterpillar and General Motors depend on VR to evaluate designs and re-invent products.   

Nurses will likely do the same, joining forces with nurse colleagues and other healthcare professionals to develop, test and re-engineer tools, devices, equipment and care settings. By immersing themselves in 3-D models, similar to those developed by Caterpillar and General Motors, nurses will literally be able to reach in and touch to explore and test new healthcare products, systems and care environments.  

Treatment of patients with PSTD, depression and anxiety.  Developed by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, Bravemind relies on VR to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), inviting them to relive the smells, sounds and feelings of war. Meanwhile, growing numbers of mental health professionals are using video games and VR for depression and anxiety treatment. Among the more prominent interactive games for mental health treatment are Elude, Depression Quest, Actual Sunlight, and SPARX.

Rehabilitation of heart and stroke patients. VR environments are already helping patients recover from stroke, as evidenced by work done at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. MindMaze uses a motion-sensing camera to project an avatar onto a patient's VR goggles. Through multiple electrodes, the patient command a virtual arm or leg to complete a task like lifting a bowl or raising a glass, for example. The technology tricks the patient's brain into reactivating damaged neurons or activating new neurons to replace damaged ones. Nurses will rely on technologies like MindMaze to work with the disabled or patients recovering from a heart attack or stroke.

VR is like any new technology. It generates questions and doubts. Nurses should remain optimistic about the impact of VR on nursing education and training and on diagnosis, treatment, recovery and prevention, while remaining somewhat skeptical of its workability, practicality and development costs. Among the questions nurse educators and professionals should pose are the following: 

Virtual Life vs. Real Life: Is the virtual world presented through VR different enough from the real world that it impinges upon nurses' ability to assimilate and integrate knowledge and skill? Will nurses and other healthcare professionals become sufficiently enamored with VR that they support developers in the creation of new virtual worlds for medicine and care delivery?  

Mainstream Potential: Will VR evolve to the extent that it becomes an affordable mainstream technology in health and medical education, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery across every entity on the expanding continuum of care? Can we have faith in Mark Zuckerberg's 2014 statement that "this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become part of the daily lives of billions of people?"

Beyond Games: Will VR reach beyond games to embrace the essence of education, religion, business, science, entertainment and technology? Adds Facebook's Zuckerberg: "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face - just by putting on goggles in your home."

Who We Are: Does VR have the capacity to change us-and not in a good way? Could VR exacerbate the challenges already generated by omnipresent smartphones and wearable devices? Could it curtail low-value interactions, as described by Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus?  Or will VR expand our horizons and forge relationships and alliances few could imagine?      



Virtual reality gives athletes a new view of training:

Virtual reality makes real impact in medical device testing:

New virtual relaxation pod uses Oculus Rift to enhance mindfulness therapy for patients:

Virtual reality system designed for motor rehabilitation of the shoulder:

Can virtual reality be the next big thing in curing blindness?

When virtual reality becomes a life saver:

With the Teslasuit you'll be able to feel virtual reality:

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago:



Is BB8 in Your Future?
January 21, 2016 7:08 AM by Susan Sportsman

Her name is Nadine. Developed by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, this human-like, or humanoid, robot can reveal personality, mood and emotions. Nadine's creators believe that social robots like her will soon surface in homes, offices and other environments that face worker shortages. 

But should nurses live in fear that Nadine's descendants will take control of the profession of nursing? Probably not. Nurses, however, should develop a more expansive view of robotic technology and robots, which already support healthcare communications, patient monitoring, supply delivery and patient care. 

Nurses must gradually uncover answers to the following questions:

  • Rationale: Why robots and robotic technology are needed in healthcare?
  • Performance: How do robots function?
  • Rewards: What are the risks and advantages of robots?
  • Results: What kinds of results have robots already generated?
  • Future: What does the future hold for robots and robotic technology?

Robot as Communicator

Robots aid in patient-clinician communications. Consider the RP-VITA, or Remote Virtual Independent Telemedicine Assistant, which allows clinicians to communicate with colleagues and patients. This remote-presence solution combines autonomous navigation and mobility from iRobot with telemedicine technology from InTouch Health.

RP-VITA has the same height, weight and eye contact as the patient who participates in a clinical consultation on its screen. Once a patient contacts a clinician, the clinician is able to "talk" to RP-VITA via an iPad or laptop and send the robot to the patient's location.

Clinicians can also use RP-VITA to monitor and transmit vital signs and symptoms. The benefit: Physicians can diagnose and treat patients in remote or hard-to-reach areas without having to travel to the location.  

RP-VITA doesn't stand alone in the robot universe. Clinicians, including nurses, social workers, case managers and other professionals, will rely on robots like Giraff to care for the home-bound elderly. Or they'll turn to Anybots, which bills itself as a "virtual telepresence company" to become immersed in distant environments- for example, a patient's home, skilled nursing facility or healthcare workplace.

Robot as Messenger   

Nurses typically spend part of their day delivering supplies and medications. That may end with the emergence of the Aetheon TUG, which has already made more than 19 million deliveries involving food services, laboratory, pharmacy, nursing, laundry and environmental services. 

Swisslog Robocourier, an autonomous mobile robot (AMR), also transmits materials from a lab, pharmacy and other departments, freeing clinicians to focus on patient-related tasks and cutting turnaround times and labor costs. 

Electronic maps, sensors and magnets allow Robocourier to navigate crowded hallways, tight spaces and multiple floors.  Robocouriuer is even able to plot the best routes within a facility, avoiding heavily trafficked areas and moving rapidly without disruption or injury to patients and clinicians. 

Robot as Patient Care Assistant

Clinicians already rely on robots to treat patients. Surgeons, for example, use the DaVinci Surgical System for non-invasive but complicated surgeries. At the same time, researchers are working on microbots with the capacity to deliver drugs, destroy cancer cells, regulate diabetes and inspect organs without surgery.

While sophisticated microbots may emerge post 2020, clinicians already use robots to care for the elderly and disabled. The Bestic Feeding Arm, for example, gives patients with no function in their hands or arms the chance to eat meals on their own. Elderly or disabled patients in hospitals, assisted living centers or their own homes can choose which pieces of food they want and when they want to lift the food to their mouths.

Developed in Japan, a robot called RoBear literally has the strength of a bear and the heart of a caring clinician. Equipped with sensors that provide feedback on the level of force needed, RoBear can lift patients out of wheelchairs and beds with slow, gentle movements. The 309-pound RoBear will likely bring relief to nurses strained by lifting heavy patients.     

Yet another type of robot supports therapy for victims of abuse, domestic violence or other traumas. Developed by students at MIT, the highly cost-effective Ollie the Otter could enhance patient-clinician interaction. Meanwhile, PARO, a cuddly robotic seal developed in Japan, provides comfort to nursing home patients while raising some ethical issues about entrusting emotional support to what some see as a medical device.

Reaching Toward the Future

Nurses are unlikely to lose their jobs to robots. Robots will continue to replace tasks and functions like cleaning, lifting, moving and drug and supply delivery. However, healthcare will always depend on the intervention, support and human touch of trained, caring nurses. Just as babies need human interaction to grow in body, mind and spirt, so patients, families and clinical colleagues need the presence and caring concern of nurses. Emergencies and crises will demand a brand of support that only nurses can provide. Robots, in turn, will offer more efficient, effective ways to deliver care. Among the action steps for nurses are the following:

  • Reflect on the future impact of robots on patient care. Consider, for example, innovations like surgical robotics, prosthetics and exoskeletons, which can help disabled people walk.
  • Ponder how robots could affect nurses' workloads and patient safety. Consider the future impact of pharmacy, delivery and disinfection robots.
  • Think about robots in the home. By 2030, more than 20 percent of Americans will be 65 and older, increasing opportunities for robotic devices and virtual care.
  • Put robotics on your reading list. Robots are regularly covered in health information technology publications as well as more popular reads like TechCrunch and CNET and conferences like the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
  • Zero in on how robots are likely to transform daily life-from transportation, education and food to entertainment, pharmaceuticals, media and real estate.


Nadine emotional robot:


InTouch Health:



Atheon TUG:

Swisslog Robocourier:

DaVinci Surgery:

Medical Microbots Take a Fantastic Voyage into Reality:

The Bestic Feeding Arm:

ROBEAR: The Experimental Nursing Care Robot:

Ollie the Otter is a Therapy Robot:

PARO Robotic Seal:

HIT-Enabled Transformation Calls for Interprofessional Collaboration with Nurses in the Lead
December 17, 2015 11:29 AM by Susan Sportsman

Healthcare has entered a new era of collaboration; specifically, interprofessional collaboration that engages professionals ranging from physicians, nurses, dieticians, and therapists to pharmacists, physician assistants, social workers and case managers. Stories on collaboration abound in the healthcare industry news. Consider these developments:

Collaboration within healthcare organizations has also gained momentum. Professionals increasingly participate in broad-based programs like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's National Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice, Retooling for Quality and Safety, an initiative of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.  

But how can nurses use interprofessional collaboration to select, implement and optimize health information technology (HIT)? Following are several recommendations:      

Join forces: Investigate marketplace realities. Collaboration works in context, which is why nurses must develop an interprofessional perspective on the following issues:   

  • How does the healthcare marketplace function?
  • What do customers-patients, consumers, providers, payers, vendors, government, and communities-expect and want from the healthcare system and a specific organization?
  • What new and emerging trends could disrupt the way this organization pursues its clinical, financial and operational goals and strategies?

Join forces: Determine how work is accomplished, i.e., how interprofessional team members, including nurses, deliver care to patients and families. Collaboration supports care delivery by bringing the right information, at the right time, to the right professionals to make the best, most accurate clinical, financial and operational decisions. The first step is to understand how work is accomplished and how care is delivered. Then, re-engineer HIT-enabled care delivery through interprofessional collaboration. 

Join forces: Design and build an organization that supports interprofessional collaboration.  Interprofessional collaboration is more than an add-on that improves care quality, safety, efficiency and outcomes. Nurses can help restructure organizations by taking the following steps:  

  • Build and participate in interprofessional collaborative teams that improve the flow, access and use of clinical, financial and operational data and information.
  • Restructure nursing jobs so nurses can make better use of data and information. Focus on roles and responsibilities, leadership traits, performance metrics and education and training.
  • Support mechanisms that incentivize collaborative behavior. Recognize, reward and celebrate interprofessional collaboration on HIT issues.

Join forces: Empower fellow nurses to engage in interprofessional collaboration. Giving nurses more information-even the right information at the right time-is no guarantee of successful interprofessional collaboration. Nurses need knowledge, skill and, most importantly, the opportunity to practice interprofessional collaboration in the workplace and across the continuum of care. C-Suite executives, including chief nursing officers (CNOs) and chief nursing informatics officers (CINOs), must champion programs that educate, train, mentor and coach nurses to think and work collaboratively with other professions.  

Join forces: Align systems to support interprofessional collaboration. Healthcare organizations can drive change by inviting nurses and other professionals to review and redesign the process of care delivery. They can also promote interprofessional collaboration by aligning goals, rewards and feedback mechanisms. Offering nurses incentives that reach beyond traditional compensation systems promotes interprofessional collaboration as a strategy to enhance HIT-related communication, decision making, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Join forces: Create a culture and environment that foster interprofessional collaboration.  So-called "flat" organizations invite employees to "be your own boss" and "self-organize" work. Healthcare, however, calls on individuals, groups, units, division and departments to work together. By building entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial cultures, healthcare organizations can zero in on fleeting opportunities and launch new products and services within several months to a year. These organizations wisely embrace the thinking of computer scientist Alan Kay who once said: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." 

Nurses can participate in interprofessional collaboration, but they can also lead it. That, in turn, means rethinking traditional nursing roles so that nurse leaders can support, mentor, coach and reward interprofessional collaboration for years to come.

Forward to the Future

Interprofessional collaboration takes full advantage of nurses' knowledge, skill and caring concern for colleagues, patients and families. However, interprofessional collaboration is a long journey of discovery rather than a quick trip to an isolated destination. With each step, nurses and their colleagues embrace and adapt to change, enhancing care quality, safety, efficiency and outcomes through the power of HIT.



Interprofessional Collaboration: The Nurse Perspective:

Interprofessional Collaboration and Education:

Fostering Interprofessional Collaboration:

Viewpoint Interprofessional Collaboration and the Future of Healthcare:




Nursing and the Campaign for Personalized, Precision Health: Bringing Genomic Info in the EHR
November 12, 2015 11:09 AM by Susan Sportsman

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes precision medicine as "an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person."   

Also known as precision health or healthcare, precision medicine embraces e-health, pharmacogenomics, electronic family health history, targeted therapies for cancer and new approaches for addressing mysterious or rare diseases.  

Precision health invites nurses and other healthcare professionals to imagine a world where clinicians could accomplish the following:

  • Gauge a patient's likely reaction to a drug before that drug is prescribed,
  • Use mobile devices to monitor patients' vital signs and diagnose diseases,
  • Rely on genomic sequencing to identify the genetic origins of diseases,
  • Identify a cancer treatment based on genetic defects within a tumor, and
  • Apply a patient's family health history and genetics to diagnostic and treatment decision making.

Nurses can contribute to the evolution of precision health and medicine, but they need support from colleges, universities and provider and payer organizations. Nurses seek new ways to handle personalized health data; specifically, how to integrate genomic data into the electronic health record (EHR) and then share that data in a usable format with other professionals at the point of care. 

Support for incorporating genomic data into the EHR is on the upswing. In September 2015, NIH awarded more than $48 million in grants to researchers who will learn how to integrate genomic data into the EHR. Among the lead grantees are Boston's Brigham & Williams Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Dallas.   

The NIH grants follow long-term research conducted by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and Electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network (eMERGE). The goal is to determine how to apply patients' DNA to the design and evaluation of more highly personalized therapies.  

The newly funded NIH projects are nothing if not practical. Some grantees will explore the root causes of highly prevalent chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Others will investigate the application of data and predictive analytics to autism, drug metabolism, cancer and immune system response.

Nurses can participate in the quest to deliver precision health and medicine by implementing these strategies:

Monitor innovations: Monitor the results of genomics studies and pilot programs. The University of Cincinnati, for example, will use its NIH grant to track some 100 genes of 2,500 study participants to identify genetic roots of multiple diseases. Meanwhile, UCLA Health has launched a pilot project with Seattle-based ActX to integrate genomic data into its EPIC EHR system. The goal is to apply the principles of precision health and medicine to a large patient base.  

Also in the game is the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which relies on data analytics to identify and store millions of genetic variants, as documented in the September 9, 2015 issue of The Atlantic.

   Track issues: Track new and emerging genomics and EHR issues, including the following:

  • Disclosure: How much genetic information do patients and consumers want? How, where and when should clinicians, including nurses, share this information?
  • Personalization vs. Population: How can nursing achieve gains in personalized health and medicine while it pursues population and public health management?
  • Safety and Security: How can nurses help ensure the security and safety of sensitive genomics data in an era dominated by costly security breaches?
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: How can nurses protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients and consumers who participate in genetic testing, research, counseling and treatment?
  • Market Demand Impact: How will the popularity and reduced costs of genetic testing influence the responses of providers, payers, government and patients? What, for example, is the potential for the following:
  • o Misinterpretation and misuse of genetic testing results?
  • o Excessive health system and consumer spending on prevention?
  • o Consumer anxiety and stress over possible diagnoses and treatments?
  • Cost: How should the healthcare system justify the costs of precision health and medicine against, for example, its investment in population and public health?
  • Technology: How will EHR, mobile, storage and telehealth technologies contribute to the transition to precision health and medicine?

Assume leadership roles: Nurses should participate in groups that set standards and share best practices for integrating consumer perspectives into precision health and medicine. Think about monitoring the precision medicine initiative launched through NIH and the Obama administration, as well as precision health programs developed by high-profile institutions like Stanford Medicine.   

Develop a positive attitude: Nurses should approach precision health with optimism and high expectations. "Embracing a national cures strategy will challenge not just regulators, but our entire system for accelerating and paying for new innovations," says Tom Corbin, who represented Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate for 10 years and how serves as advisor to the Manhattan Institute's Project FDA. "It will also enable a golden age of medicine, bringing hope to millions of patients who lack hope today."

Reflect on applications: Reflect on how the integration of genomic data into the EHR will re-engineer nursing practice. "Seminars in Oncology Nursing", which is published by Elsevier, forecasts nurses' growing involvement in communication, advocacy and support of patients and families during genetic testing, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing monitoring and decision making. Adds the journal: "Nursing education and continuing education, clinical decision support, and health systems changes will be necessary to provide personalized multidisciplinary care to patients, in which nurses play a key role."

Educate and train patients, families and colleagues on personalized, precision medicine and health: Nurses can go a long way toward educating patients, consumers and colleagues on personalized, precision medicine and health. Among the issues nurses can explore with patients and colleagues via print, online and broadcast media are the following: 

  • What is personalized or precision medicine and health?
  • Is it available now?
  • What are its risks and benefits?
  • How can personalized medicine help patients with cancer or other chronic conditions?

Facilitate patient and family decision making: Just as nurses can educate and train patients and colleagues on personalized, precision medicine, they can also support and coach patients to make accurate, informed, evidence-based decisions on genetic testing and treatment. Among the questions nurses can address during coaching sessions are the following:

  • How can learning about my family's health history help prevent diseases and conditions?
  • What do you mean by "genetics"? How could it help to treat diseases and conditions?
  • Can you give me some examples of how you use genetics to identify and treat diseases?
  • What are some of the reservations healthcare professionals have about genetic testing and treatment?
  • What are the factors I need to consider to make the best, most appropriate decision about genetic testing and treatment?



Precision Medicine Initiative:

Stanford Medicine Precision Health:

National Human Genome Research Institute:

Electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network:

eMERGE Network: Electronic Medical Records and Genomics:



Precision Medicine Is about to Disrupt the Entire Healthcare System:

Informatics: Ethical Use of Genomics Data and Electronic Medical Records:

NIH Grants Seek Best Ways to Combine Genetic Information and EHRs:

Mining Electronic Health Records in the Genomic Era:

Matching DNA with Medical Records to Crack Disease and Aging:

The High Price of Precision Healthcare:

Nursing Implications in Personalized and Precision Medicine:

Healthcare Is Up for a Revolution with the Rise of Personal Genomic Tests:

How Data Wranglers Are Developing the Great Library of Genetic Variation:

"Seminars in Oncology Nursing", Vol. 30, No. 2, May 2014.

A bold new enterprise to revolutionize medicine and generate the scientific evidence needed


Nurses Will Benefit From the Internet of Things
October 14, 2015 1:32 PM by Susan Sportsman
Nurses may have already experienced the Internet of Things (IoT) - also known as the Internet of Everything - in their personal lives as smart sensors surface in objects ranging from trash bins and refrigerators, to office supplies and slow cookers.

IoT is also poised to influence nurses' professional lives. The healthcare IoT market will surge to $117 billion by 2020, according to research from IoT will turbocharge innovation in remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and behavior modification. It will help to control avoidable costs, surface fresh business opportunities and enhance the management of chronic conditions.  

Nurses must track the promise and prospects of IoT, including its cost-saving potential, as outlined in "The Digital Revolution Comes to U.S. Healthcare" from Goldman Sachs Group Equity Research. Among the report's key messages for nurses are the following:

1. Expect digital disruptive innovation: Digital health will deliver affordable, accessible patient solutions, predicts the Goldman Sachs report. While healthcare's immediate past featured low-cost, low-access, low-tech devices, the current environment offers high-cost, high-tech, low-access devices. Tomorrow, however, will be different. Digital care will occur via low-cost, high-tech, high-access solutions. "Your smartphone could warn you that your heart and lungs are beginning to malfunction well before you start to have symptoms," predicts Eric. J. Topol, M.D.

Recommendation for nurses: Track how new and emerging digital solutions compare in terms of cost, access and technology. Evaluate the impact of devices on multiple variables, including cost control, quality, safety, outcomes, productivity, efficiency, and nursing workflow.      

2. Chronic care management will remain a core challenge. The Goldman Sachs reports divides the IoT market into three promising categories: remote patient monitoring, telehealth and behavioral modification. Despite these tech innovations, nurses may struggle to manage patients' chronic conditions for two reasons:

  • Chronic conditions represent $1.1 trillion in annual spending or almost one-third of the nation's healthcare expenditures, according to the National Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
  • Three conditions-heart-related problems, asthma and diabetes-represent one-fifth of total healthcare expenditures.

Recommendation for nurses: Track the impact of chronic disease on providers, payers, patients, families, employers, communities and populations. Explore how IoT could support the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease across the care continuum. Patients, especially the mature patient, will likely learn how to use the IoT devices to some degree, and nurses will play a key role in educating them.

3.  IoT is a potential game changer for chronic disease management. If applied to the fight against heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and diabetes, remote patient monitoring could save some $200 billion annually. If adapted to routine and psychological care, telehealth could save $100 billion annually. And if mobilized to tackle obesity, smoking and lifestyle issues, behavior modification technologies could generate unspecified but significant savings. The bottom line is IoT represents a total healthcare savings opportunity of more than $300 billion annually, predicts Goldman Sachs.

Recommendation for Nurses: Track the impact of remote patient monitoring, telehealth and behavior modification technologies on cost savings, we well as quality, safety and outcomes.   Also reflect on how IoT technologies-remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and behavior modification - could address the challenges of value-based reimbursement, performance management, population health management and patient, consumer and provider engagement. Again, there will be a role for nurses in helping patients to integrate these technologies into their own lives.

Moving Forward with the IoT Evolution   

And what of the future? Digital health adoption will help to reduce unnecessary, repetitive care and control wasteful spending.  The nation-and perhaps the entire world-could experience significant cost savings through improvements in chronic disease management and prevention.   Nurses, however, must come together to address the following issues:   

  • Cross-continuum collaboration: How can nurses engage in the kind of interprofessional collaboration that supports chronic disease management and prevention across the expanding continuum of care?
  • Telehealth: How can nurses facilitate the adoption, implementation and use of telehealth, allowing patients to seek medical and healthcare advice without visiting a provider's office?
  • Remote patient monitoring: How can nurses support the planning, adoption and use of technologies that track and respond to the highest risk, costliest patients?
  • Behavior modification: How can nurses make a business and clinical case for disease prevention and readmissions avoidance via tech-facilitated lifestyle change?
  • Patient training and education: How can nurses help patients integrate the IoT technology into their personal lives to take the most advantage of it?

Other issues are bound to demand the attention of nurses. Among them are the Food and Drug Administration regulation, patient and consumer adoption, provider acceptance, reimbursement and privacy.   

Despite these concerns, the future is bright. "The advent of mobile and the advancement of sensors effectively allow for the miniaturization of medical equipment that formerly only a centralized institution could afford," says the Goldman Sachs report.  "In this way, we envision IoT enabling a hospital of the future based almost exclusively in 'the cloud.'"


Smartphone gadgets lets you control Crock-Pot, check for sunburn

"The Digital Revolution Comes to U.S. Healthcare"

Digital Healthcare is Coming

Big Data on Internet of Things: Key Trends, Market Opportunities and Forecasts-2015-2020

 Re-imagining Everyday Objects

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey

The Internet of Things: the Next Mega Trend


Telemedicine in Nursing
August 27, 2015 12:40 PM by Susan Sportsman

The global telemedicine market will be worth $34 billion by 2020, according to 2015 research from Mordor Intelligence. By 2018, more than 65 percent of interactions between patients and healthcare organizations will occur via mobile devices, predicts IDC Health Insights.

Telemedicine is a subset of the broader category of telehealth. According to the Health Resources Services Administration, telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services while telehealth can also refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education.

Telemedicine will create new opportunities for nurses to improve care access, quality, safety and outcomes and squeeze out some of healthcare's avoidable costs. Nurses are already making their influence felt in the following settings:

  • Nurses at a Veterans Administration hospital in Topeka, Kan., use telemedicine to supplement intensive care. A simulation lab allows nurses to train with mannequins in rooms that resemble ICUs.
  • Arizona Palliative Home Care relies on telemedicine to deliver palliative care. Nurses deliver the first 45 minutes of care, with other professionals conducting video chats with patients for the remaining 10-15 minutes.
  • Nurses at the John H. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit use telemedicine for remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. They rely on data generated by remote home monitoring devices.
  • Nurses accompany a North Carolina orthopedic surgeon who relies on a robot to complete postoperative rounds of patients located in another city.
  • Nurse educators at Duke University School of Nursing use a telepresence robot developed by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based, California-Double Robotics to create realistic clinical simulations.

Telemedicine and telehealth have a bright future. Nurses can make an impact by sharing their unique knowledge, skill, experience and insight on how telehealth and telemedicine will reduce avoidable costs and improve outcomes, quality, access and safety. Following are strategies C-suite and nurse executives can implement to ensure that nurses leave their imprint on the telemedicine revolution:   

Outline benefits, challenges: Invite nurses to discuss how telemedicine can benefit the organization's consumer and patient populations. Encourage analysis of telemedicine's value proposition in terms of access to care, outreach to new markets, interprofessional collaboration, resource optimization, and reduced emergency department visits, admissions and readmissions.  

Also develop strategies to overcome telemedicine barriers, including reimbursement, licensure laws, online prescribing, privacy and security and other concerns cited by the American Hospital Association in its May 2015 TrendWatch.

Share success stories: Invite nurses to build excitement around telemedicine by sharing stories of business and clinical telemedicine opportunities, implementations, results and lessons learned. Telemedicine leaders include organizations as diverse as Missouri-based Mercy Health System, New York City-based Beth Israel Medical Center, Mayo Clinic and the University of Virginia Health System.     

Think big and brainstorm on channels and conditions: Consider how an organization could use telemedicine to better engage patients and consumers, providers, populations and communities via clinical services, referrals, consultations, interprofessional collaboration and digital communications. How, for example, could telemedicine improve the outcomes of patients with conditions like stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? 

Zero in on trends. Invite nurses to analyze, evaluate and synthesize the impact of healthcare, technology and consumer trends on telemedicine. Among the issues: How will reimbursement and industry trends influence the telemedicine market? How do telemedicine technologies rate on variables like security, integration with other systems and cost? What do payers, providers and patients need and want from telemedicine? What opportunities are likely to arise in the years ahead? 

Clarify your intent: Once nurses analyze the impact of multiple trends on telemedicine, they can examine what telemedicine could mean to a healthcare organization. Before nurses hone in on telemedicine success, they should consider these steps:

  • Perform a needs assessment that documents how telemedicine could close service gaps and minimize challenges like emergency department overuse, inpatient admissions and readmissions and population health.
  • Evaluate how well a telemedicine program would align with organizational mission, vision and values and nurses' scope of practice.
  • Assess the organization's capabilities-and the capabilities of nurses-against new and emerging market opportunities for telemedicine.

Design a telemedicine program: Working in the spirit of interprofessional collaboration, nurses can outline the varied dimensions of a telemedicine program. Consider these questions: 

  • Governance: Who will provide clinical, financial and operational oversight of the telemedicine program? What kinds of structures are needed?
  • Reimbursement: Which telemedicine services are eligible for reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers? Will reimbursement be adequate to sustain the telemedicine program?
  • Funding: Could the telemedicine program secure sustainable funding via government or foundation grants, alliances or vendor partnerships?
  • Staffing: Who will deliver telemedicine services? Who will champion telemedicine among executives, managers, clinicians and healthcare consumers? How will the organization address issues related to education, training, licensure and credentialing?
  • Process and policy: What policies, procedures and processes does the organization need to deliver high-quality, cost-effective telemedicine services?
  • Technology: What kind of technology does the organization need to deliver telemedicine services? How well does the technology address service needs and gaps and requirements of the telemedicine business plan?
  • Metrics: Which metrics will the organization use to evaluate telemedicine success? Examples include patients served, telemedicine consultations by service line, referrals, remote site locations, access, satisfaction, trust, adoption and use, revenues, readmissions, emergency department use, and expanded services to new populations.
  • Partnerships: How could a partner or cluster of partners help the organization control telemedicine costs, manage risk, accelerate implementation and drive innovation? An organization could partner with nursing colleges and universities, health systems, academic medical centers, medical groups and payers, as well as entities along the expanding continuum of care-from imaging centers and assisted living facilities, to nursing homes and home care organizations.

Implement a telemedicine program: Implement a telemedicine program in phases via a schedule that allows adequate time to secure enterprise-wide support, purchase, install and troubleshoot equipment and provide education and training. Rather than launching a full-blown program, develop a pilot telemedicine program that zeroes in on a limited number of patients, staff, locations and specialties or disciplines. Doing so gives an organization time to adjust protocols, tweak technology and test tools that collect and evaluate patient data and measure patient and provider satisfaction.   

Telemedicine allows nurses to participate in the industry-wide transition from disjointed, uncoordinated volume-based care to more integrated, patient-centric and value-based care. Through telemedicine nurses can provide care to patients, consumers and communities anytime, anywhere. Well-designed telemedicine programs help nurses operate with greater efficiency and cost effectiveness. They can improve the health status of patients and populations while generating fresh sources of revenue for healthcare organizations.


Telemedicine market:    

IDC Health insights:

How is telehealth different from telemedicine?

A better doctor's visit through telemedicine:

Telepresence robots aid Duke nursing instruction:

Telehealth nursing fact sheet:

Nursing considerations and the future of telehealth:

The role of telehealth nursing:

American telemedicine association:


Nurses as Public Health Champions: The Role of Informatics
July 27, 2015 11:16 AM by Susan Sportsman
 A patient enters a clinic with symptoms of a serious infectious disease. A nurse fails to ask the patient where she "lives, works and plays" and if she is prepared to fill a fairly expensive prescription. This is healthcare of the past-a time when clinicians addressed patients' symptoms with small regard for the consequences of the disease or condition on community, surrounding populations and public health.    

Now, however, healthcare has broadened its focus from symptoms to social determinants-defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the "circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age." These factors, which range from transportation, public safety and social support to crime, segregation and literacy, profoundly influence healthcare access, quality, safety and outcomes.

Nurses are the new champions of public health and navigators of social determinants of health. So vital is the role of nurses that two senators in May 2015 introduced legislation to elevate the role of the Chief Nursing Officer in the Public Health Services to the National Nurse for Public Health.

A public health mindset calls on nurses to build "a national culture of health," according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). That, in turn, requires implementation of the Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals released by the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice.  

Nurses must examine issues like healthcare associated infections (HAIs), sexually transmitted diseases, immunization and prevention from the perspective of populations and communities, not just individual patients. At the same time, nurse faculty and healthcare executives must fully integrate public health content into nurse education and training, blending coverage of the cardiovascular system, for example, with discussions of best practices for smoking cessation, stress reduction, exercise and food and diet.       

Nursing schools and healthcare employers must follow the lead of public health-focused nursing programs, including those offered by Johns Hopkins University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Virginia. Other programs have already reworked nursing curricula to blend population health management with prevention, disease outbreaks and infection control.

Advancing population and public health also requires that nurses understand the inner workings of public health information system, according to the Public Health Informatics Institute. Doing so demands an understanding of informatics functions, outputs, tasks, challenges, risks, exit criteria and the entire health information technology (HIT) lifecycle.

More specifically, nurses can help build the national culture of health as described by RWJF through participation in the design, implementation and promotion of multiple campaigns using technologies, including the following:

Consumer Health: Nurses can use diverse media-from the Internet to mobile devices-to engage populations. Nearly one-third of teenagers, for example, claim that they use online information to inform health-related decisions and transition to healthier habits, according to a May 2015 study from Northwestern University. Nurses can adapt new media to meet the information education and engagement needs of seniors, Millennials, young mothers or consumer segments as defined by Deloitte:

  • Casual and cautious (34%)-Not engaged, no current needs, cost-conscious
  • Content and compliant (22%)-Happy with the physician, hospital, and health plan; trusting and follows care plans
  • Online and onboard (17%)-Online learner, happy with care but interested in alternatives and technologies
  • Sick and savvy (14%)-Consumes healthcare services and products; partners with physicians to make treatment decisions
  • Out and about (9%)-Independent, prefers alternatives and wants to customize services
  • Shop and save (4%)-Active, seeks options and switches for value, saves for future health costs

Disease Outbreaks: Nurses can help prevent the spread of deadly diseases by following the lead of experts who have already developed tools that use smartphones and tablets to track infectious diseases like Ebola or MERS and control outbreaks, according to Reuters. Others have discovered that clinicians can rely on simple online tools like Wikipedia to track seasonal flu activity, according to Federal Computer Week.

Quality measures: Electronic clinical quality measures (eCQM) data extracted from electronic health records (EHRs) will be invaluable as nurses monitor clinical conditions and track population health, according to the CDS' Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report confirms that reported data "could improve the timeliness  and possibly completeness of data used to track issues of public health concern," says Thomas Mason, M.D., chief medical officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, and Janet Wright, M.D., executive director of the Million Hearts® Initiative.  

Environment: Climate and climate change will alter health status outcomes, according to scientists. Nurses will document how climate influences public health, reviewing, for example, how climate change could lead to more asthma attacks due to wildfires that emit soot into the air. Nurses are sure to benefit from the Obama Administration's Climate Data Initiative, which features more than 150 data sets. More than 12 technology companies have already announced plans to use the data to fight infectious diseases and combat outbreaks, according to the Washington Post.

Treatments: Nurses will rely on technology to improve treatment of chronic conditions and infectious diseases. Progress is already being made. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) supports the work of VillageCare, a New York not-for-profit working to improve medication adherence among HIV/AIDS patients, according to Health Data Management. Meanwhile, the CDC and the American Medical Association have partnered to develop online tools to support patients with Type 2 diabetes, writes Health Data Management.

Nurses' burgeoning role in public health surfaces in the proposal for a National Nurse for Public Health. The future is bright. Nurses will tap the power of informatics to slow the epidemic of preventable diseases, promote health awareness, reduce disparities and increase literacy and access.


Social Determinants of Health:

The National Nurse Act of 2015:

The Top Five Issues for Nursing in 2015:

Building a Culture of Health:




About this Blog

    Occupation: Nursing informatics experts and enthusiasts
    Setting: Various settings in healthcare and academia
  • About Blog and Author

Keep Me Updated