1. Peddicord, Karen RNC, PhD
  2. McCarthy, Molly RN, MBA
  3. Scheich, Benjamin BS

Article Content

The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is the standard bearer and foremost nursing authority promoting the health of women and newborns, with more than 23 000 members including clinicians, educators, researchers, and executives. A goal of AWHONN is to generate knowledge and drive clinical nursing practice forward and to facilitate the integration of information technology in the healthcare environment.


In 2006, AWHONN convened a Nursing Advisory Panel on Informatics to identify any existing gaps in nursing informatics knowledge for specialty membership associated with AWHONN, to determine the AWHONN role in the area of nursing informatics, and to make recommendations about future AWHONN directions to consider for strategic planning and product development. Since the 2006 Informatics Advisory Panel Meeting, AWHONN has begun several initiatives to support its goal of integrating information technology specifically into the nursing practice of women and newborns see Table 1.

Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTable 1. AWHONN Informatics Initiatives

One of the AWHONN informatics initiatives, the AWHONN EDGE ("Extract Data and Generate Evidence") Benchmarking Database, is currently in development and beta testing with 20 hospital sites across the United States and is expected to go live in late 2009. Conceptualized in 2004, with further discussion during the Informatics Advisory Panel Meeting, the AWHONN EDGE is anticipated to be the most credible resource providing data to measure quality healthcare for women and infants. The database goals include the following:


* Provide business intelligence for the nursing leader using clinical, staffing, and financial data


* Provide a tool used to trend and benchmark data within a hospital and with other hospitals


* Automate data extraction to generate the evidence to guide nursing practices


* Be the most cost-effective and user-friendly resource tool for business intelligence and quality measurement



The AWHONN EDGE Benchmarking Database features many unique characteristics (see Table 2) intended to help service line directors and managers save valuable time and money. Currently, AWHONN EDGE is the only healthcare database that automatically extracts from the women's and infants' electronic medical record (EMR) system. Hospital data are securely and electronically extracted on a monthly basis and loaded into a staging table (see Figure 1) that resides on the AWHONN technology provider's server. To ensure maximum security, all personal health information (PHI) is removed from the file prior to extraction. Once the data are loaded, the next step, and perhaps the most important step, in the data transfer is the data "mapping."

Table 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowTable 2. AWHONN EDGE Features and Benefits
Figure 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 1. Data transfer, mapping, and upload.

The data mapping step allows a hospital to match its EMR entries to the standard set of AWHONN categories and definitions so that all participating hospitals, regardless of EMR, can make an accurate comparison and benchmark. Along with the beta hospital sites, AWHONN carefully developed and designed the definitions based on standard terminology. The data mapping is considered a one-time activity and is performed online with assistance from an AWHONN clinical expert. After mapping is completed, a hospital's data are loaded into the AWHONN EDGE Benchmarking Database and are available for viewing and analysis by the hospital within 48 hours online at


Once the hospital user logs into the database, their clinical data can be viewed, filtered, trended, and compared with those of demographically similar hospitals and all participating hospitals. For example, a hospital can look at whether tobacco use impacts the birth weight of babies at their hospital (see Figure 2). A hospital can also compare themselves to other academic hospitals or Magnet hospitals participating by selecting the appropriate demographic selections.

Figure 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 2. Screen shot of

Now, AWHONN is in the process of developing the staffing and financial components of the database. Key elements will be included to assist the nurse leader in driving quality care and to add new dimensions to the analysis. In the future, AWHONN expects to collect data from across the labor and delivery continuum of care, starting with antepartum care through NICU stays. With approximately 100 000 deliveries in the database at the time of this publication, AWHONN anticipates the database to go live during 2009.


During 2009 and beyond, AWHONN will continue to be at the forefront of healthcare information technology through ongoing initiatives and new opportunities. The need to drive nursing practice forward through the dissemination of healthcare information technology knowledge is recognized by AWHONN.