Luke Yokota MACN speaking at the 2019 National Nursing Forum.
Throughout November our Nurse Informatics Community of Interest (COI) is running a campaign focusing on raising awareness of informatics and recognizing the excellent work nurses are doing in the informatics space. Across the month we will share with you four fascinating articles on NurseClick written by members of the COI.
You can support the campaign by using the hashtag #doingITwithcare during the month of November. If you are interested in joining the Nurse Informatics COI you can do so on neo.
We are living in the digital age where nearly everything can be accessed online: from viewing your banking records, watching your favourite movies or TV shows, finding recipes or live streaming your pet at home. We have come to the crucial point where health records for the Australian public are going digital. Over the past few decades, electronic health records have gained increasing momentum within Australia, with many hospital services around the country going partially or fully digital in both their clinical and administrative operations. Though nearly everything in our daily life is already accessed online, the question of whether we should have electronically accessible health records has caused much debate. The new ‘My Health Record’ and other similarly ambitious projects internationally have struggled to gain popularity.
So where do we go from here?
As a community and nation with a highly valued, world-class health system, Australia could be seen as the envy of many second- and third-world countries. However, if any of our health data became compromised in any way there would undoubtedly be many people let down and further investments in new digital health services would be stunted.
How do we then approach keeping our health data secure and private? And more importantly, who will be responsible for keeping this privacy? In previous cases it was the privacy breaches that have caused the downfall of electronic health records, where data was unjustly accessed by third-party organisations. Should we be more cautious and keep our data secure, not sharing it with anyone? Or is there something that the nursing profession should be doing to ease this transition and ensure that people’s privacy and confidentiality with electronic health records are secure and protected?
In many areas, it is the nursing professionals that play a vital role in pioneering new health frontiers, so why not with digital health records? As leaders and advocates for our patients, we must be able to stay up to speed with the ever-moving and fast pace of complex digital health systems. As nurses we must be informed, educated and engaged in the development of digital of access. We must be a strong presence and be present alongside other stakeholders and teams, have executive roles in digital health initiatives and value the integrity of the electronic health data, that we know has the ability to support so many people.
This blog does not serve to offer any answers to the enormous task and transformation that our health service in Australia will see in the next decade but provides a suggestion for all nurses to be mindful and ever responsive to changes that are required to maintain best practices, quality patient-centred care and safe working environments. In order to be responsible for these changes, nurses must not only embrace change but be at the forefront of that change. We must be representatives for future nurses and advocate for data security and privacy to ensure all electronic health records are secure.
Nurses must be the voice that upholds our standards, integrity and security in a time where health data is at its most vulnerable.
By Luke Yokota MACN