1. Sensmeier, Joyce MS, RN, BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS

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The 2006 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Symposium was a resounding success, with more than 350 attendees coming together to learn, network, and share ideas. The unprecedented 2-day event provided participants with information and new skills to respond to a call for action to use information and informatics to improve the care of patients.


Saturday was dedicated to foundational content for those new to nursing informatics. Debra Konicek, RN, MSN, BC, introduced the attendees to standardized terminology, highlighting the role of terminology within the national US information infrastructure. "Basic Concepts in Understanding Databases" was presented by Ramona Nelson, PhD, RN, FAAN.


Sunday began with a talk by Rear Admiral Carol Romano, RN, PhD. Dr Romano discussed the role of informatics in improving the health of all people in our country. She stressed the importance of linking information to improve the care and health of individuals while also aggregating information to improve the healthcare of populations.


Later in the morning, Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN, BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, Judy Murphy, RN, BSN, and Patti Dykes, RN, DNSc, presented the results of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Survey, which suggested that respondents are reasonably content with the degree to which available health information technology (HIT) supports the role of nurses, but there are key areas where we need to focus our work, specifically interoperability and promoting care efficiency.


Barbara Stuttle from the UK's National Health Service Connecting for Health pointed out that nurses often function as information repositories. She discussed the role of nurses and informaticists in a transformational approach to the design and implementation of information systems where competencies are developed to support transformation from a paper to electronic world and where technology is viewed as an enabler, not a barrier, to transformation.


Leslie Nicoll, PhD, MBA, RN, BC, talked about the evolving role of informatics nurses and pointed out that most nurses working in informatics keep the word nurse in the title to identify the continuity that does and should exist between our past and future roles.


Cindy Spurr, MBA, RN, BC, FHIMSS, from Partners Healthcare Systems talked about the progress Massachusetts has made toward the use of RHIOs for information sharing through the MA Share project. She talked about the steps that are being taken to create both a useful and sustainable model that will make patient care safer in Massachusetts.


In the afternoon sessions, David Cornwall, RN, MBA, described some of the benefits of informatics, technology, and telehealth in an integrated healthcare delivery system, including care coordination, clinical outcomes, decreased costs, and improved satisfaction. Rosemary Kennedy, RN, MBA, and Susan Matney, RN, MS, talked about strategies for success and the value associated with integrating structured terminology within the electronic health record to improve the processes and outcomes of care.


Warren Sandberg, MD, PhD, and Loretta Schlachta-Fairchild, RN, PhD, demonstrated the use of workflow restructuring and electronic solutions, including telehealth, to address the cognitive burden imposed by patient care, workflow constraints, and safety concerns and demonstrated the benefits that arise when we free up caregivers to focus on the patient. Judy Murphy described how important it is to decide when you want to go before you set out on an HIT project and when you should find out what others have done to provide some "best practice" targets. Nancy Lorenzi presented the "Success Factor Profile," in essence, a practice guideline for selecting an implementation site likely to improve the probability of system acceptance and success.


To conclude the day, Leah Curtin motivated the participants to leave the conference with a sustained commitment to apply what we have learned at a new level. I think it is appropriate to sum up with her words of inspiration: "When the unthinkable becomes thinkable, it moves from the realm of impossibility to probability." So let us go out and see what we can do.