Review: evaluating information systems in nursing
General Nurse Manager, Clinica Universitaria, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Hull, Hull, UK
Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
To review existing nursing research on inpatient hospitals' information technology (IT) systems in order to explore new approaches for evaluation research on nursing informatics to guide further design and implementation of effective IT systems.
There has been an increase in the use of IT and information systems in nursing in recent years. However, there has been little evaluation of these systems and little guidance on how they might be evaluated.
A literature review was conducted between 1995 and 2005 inclusive using CINAHL and Medline and the search terms 'nursing information systems', 'clinical information systems', 'hospital information systems', 'documentation', 'nursing records', 'charting'.
Research in nursing information systems was analysed and some deficiencies and contradictory results were identified which impede a comprehensive understanding of effective implementation. There is a need for IT systems to be understood from a wider perspective that includes aspects related to the context where they are implemented.
Social and organizational aspects need to be considered in evaluation studies and realistic evaluation can provide a framework for the evaluation of information systems in nursing.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE
The rapid introduction of IT systems for clinical practice urges evaluation of already implemented systems examining how and in what circumstances they work to guide effective further development and implementation of IT systems to enhance clinical practice. Evaluation involves more factors than just involving technologies such as changing attitudes, cultures and healthcare practices. Realistic evaluation could provide configurations of context-mechanism-outcomes that explain the underlying relationships to understand why and how a programme or intervention works.
CITATION J Clin Nurs. 2008 Mar;17(5):567-75