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Nursing informatics results from integrating the triad of computer, information and nursing sciences. Nursing informatics has evolved to assist in the management and processing of nursing data, information, and knowledge to support nursing practice, education, research, and administration. Information intensive disciplines like nursing require careful investigation into the application of computers to process nursing information. Nursing informatics can be applied to model the human processing of data, information, and knowledge within a computer system in order to automate the processing of nursing data to information and the transformation of nursing information to nursing knowledge. In the 21st century, information is doubling every five years, if not tripling in quantity and quality. It is crucial that nurses have access to the latest scientific information to assist in the delivery of high quality care and the development of nursing knowledge and theory.

Point to Ponder....

"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination." - Albert Einstein

The 21st Century is a new era for informatics, the process of gaining power through the data-information-knowledge triad. This is occurring in all disciplines, not just in Nursing. As in other disciplines, the need for nurses to feel comfortable working with computerized data and information is escalating. Technology also facilitates the creative process in nurses, affording amazing vehicles for patient education, teaching and learning, and providing general health promotion and prevention information on a global scale.

Health and nursing information science is the study of how health care data is acquired, communicated, stored, and managed, and how it is processed into information and knowledge. This knowledge is useful to nurses in decision-making at the operational, tactical, and strategic planning levels of health care. Information systems used in health care include the people, structures, processes, and manual as well as automated tools that collect, store, interpret, transform, and report practice and management information.

The realization that health care data and information can be effectively managed and communicated using computer systems and telecommunications has catalyzed the emergence of the science of nursing informatics. More and more, with each passing year, "high tech and high touch" are becoming a way of life in the practice of nursing. This can only become common reality if nurses are comfortable working with computers and advanced technology while providing evidence based care for their clients.

At present, nursing informatics is still an emerging field of study. National nursing organizations support the need for nurses to become computer literate and well versed in the dynamics of nursing informatics. We are at a transition period. Becoming educated in nursing informatics has been, for the most part, a self-directed and independent endeavor. Programs that offer basic and further education in nursing informatics are beginning to spring up around the globe, but many more are needed to provide easy access for motivated nurses. Advances in nursing informatics are in the infancy stage, yet, show promise for the future where this science will contribute significantly to envisioned new health care delivery systems world-wide.

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