What Will Big Data Mean For Nursing?

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The healthcare industry is beginning to see just how beneficial Big Data can be to patients, doctors, and nurses. For instance, a new nurse leader rounding technology makes use of Big Data to improve the level of care offered by hospital nurses, according to VP of Patient Care Services Stephanie Reid writes in Health Management Technology’s “Improving Patient Satisfaction Scores With Digital Nurse Leader Rounding.”

Nursing measuring data with stethoscope

This new technology provides a tablet at every bedside and can be accessed from any mobile device or patient kiosk. Information recorded is immediately uploaded to the patients’ electronic health record (EHR) and from there can be accessed by clinicians and data analytics systems.

Technological progress is changing the landscape of almost every industry, including healthcare. Big Data analytics promises to improve the healthcare industry by streamlining business operations, improving medical research, and increasing the efficiency of care. Data-savvy nurses who choose to pursue their Masters of Science in Nursing degree will be invaluable to employers and to patients.

Where Big Data Is Already Making An Impact

Data analytics technology, despite its popularity in the realm of retail marketing, manufacturing, inventory, and financial transactions, has proven to be instrumental to the healthcare industry, patient care, and medical research.

According to healthcare writer Emma Taylor in her article, “Future Data Trends In Pharma And Healthcare,” Big Data is already being used to find suitable participants for clinical trials who fit the criteria for the trial. Data is also used for modeling purposes to predict how patients may react to certain medications.

“Through the collection of data on millions of patients, with billions of different unique characteristics, it will be possible to identify the most effective course of treatment for patients based on the collective knowledge of what’s worked for similar people in the past,” Taylor writes.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is also helping to improve patient care by producing useful patient data, ready for analysis. IoT devices monitor a wide variety of measurable patient data, from fetal activity to blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels, according to analytics authority Carol McDonald in her article, “5 Big Data Trends In Healthcare For 2017.”

“Many of these measurements require a follow-up visit with a physician,” McDonald continues. “But smarter monitoring devices communicating with other patient devices could greatly refine this process, possibly lessening the needs for direct physician intervention and maybe replacing it with a phone call from a nurse.”

Healthcare Big Data Needs Data-Savvy Nurses

As the healthcare industry’s stock in Big Data continues to increase, nurses will be expected to familiarize themselves with all the new devices and systems that make use of data and understand how that data is processed.

EHRs are now capable of pooling and analyzing data entered by nurses, discovering trends and warning signs, and deriving patterns of all sorts. But the data input into these systems must be standardized and structured.

American Nurse Today author Amy L. Garcia, MSN, highlights a series of guidelines that nurses should follow in order to promote Big Data use, including:

  • Document according to evidence-based practice standards
  • Document consistently and use standard terminology
  • Limit use of free text
  • Learn about nursing informatics

Informatics refers to the integration of nursing science with information management and analytical sciences. Nursing informatics teaches nurses to identify, define, manage, and communicate wisdom, according to nursing expert Michelle Troseth in an interview with healthcare writer Eden Estopace.

Troseth also says, “When we have data, it is possible to benchmark and improve quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of healthcare. Without data, it is like throwing a dart in the dark – you won’t know exactly where things stand. By creating data dashboards, digitalizing data, creating standardized Big Data and linking it with standardized terminology, we are able to look at trends in nursing and make decisions on a nursing practice that we’ve never been able to make before.”

Healthcare systems, nursing stations, and patient kiosks are now being designed with Big Data in mind. Fewer unstructured data or “free text” areas will be available to nurses, but an increase in checkbox and dropdown menu options make up for it.

Patient data is accumulating rapidly, coming in from electronic records, IoT devices, patient kiosks, websites, surveys and questionnaires, and even from research facilities and genomics labs. Nurses will play a major role in healthcare data analytics by ensuring that clean, structured, and standardized data is inputted on one end so that valuable insights can be derived at the end of the line.

Duquesne University’s Online Master Of Sciences In Nursing Program

The online MSN program at Duquesne University is fully accredited by CCNE and offers MSN concentrations in family (individual across the lifespan) nurse practitioner, forensic nursing, and nursing education. Duquesne’s faculty of nurse educators delivers a quality nursing education that prepares students to sit for required credentialing exams and for the real-world challenges they will encounter as an MSN. Contact Duquesne University today to learn more.