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Improving information technology competencies: implications for psychiatric mental health nursing

Marilyn S Fetter
Issues in Mental Health Nursing 2009, 30 (1): 3-13
19148816
While substantial evidence links information technology (IT) with improved patient safety, care quality, access, and efficiency, nurses must demonstrate competencies in computers, informatics, and information literacy in order to use IT for practice, education, and research. The nursing profession has established IT competencies for all nurses at beginning and experienced levels. Newly revised standards also articulate role-specific expectations for advanced practice nurses. Unfortunately, there is a concern that many nurses may not possess these capabilities and that nurse educators are not prepared to teach them. IT competency evaluations, which have focused predominately on nursing education, indicate novice skill levels for most faculty and students. In numerous studies, again conducted largely in nursing education, significant improvement in IT competencies has been achieved only with intensive interventions. Deficits in IT competencies are a significant concern, because the federal government has mandated full implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by 2014. EHR will require all nurses to use IT to deliver, document, and obtain reimbursement for patient care. In response to these concerns, two recent initiatives, the "Health Information Technology Scholars (HITS)" and "Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER)" projects, have been launched. By enhancing IT competencies, these projects will enable nurses to use evidence-based practice and other innovations to transform clinical care, education, and research. This report updates psychiatric-mental health nurses on the IT competencies literature, recent enhancement initiatives and innovations, and their implications for the specialty.

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