Information and communication
technology in nursing
Current role and future scope
In this chapter, I offer a basic introduction to concepts in information and communication technology and some practical applications for nurses in terms of relevant web materials and how to access them. I do not mean to provide a critique of the specialist field of information and communications technology in nursing. I begin by clarifying and defining some of the most common terms used in this field. I then go on to describe and exemplify the relevance of these technologies within various aspects of palliative care nursing. I also refer to research where this is applicable. A paper by Ada Spitzer (1998) raised the following question: 'Moving into the information era: does the current nursing paradigm still hold?' A few years have passed since this publication, but it is likely that the question relating to nursing and the transition into the information era is still valid in most industrialized countries today. The rapid growth of the information society and the closely related information and communication technologies has had an enormous impact on all areas of health care, including nursing. It is imperative that all disciplines involved in delivering, managing or researching health care assess their existing framework with the view of embracing and adapting innovative developments to make further progress in the care of patients.
The UK Council for Health Informatics Professions define health informatics as: 'The knowledge, skills and tools which enable information to be collected, managed, used and shared to support the delivery of healthcare and promote health'. Norris and Brittain discuss the confusion that exists between various terms like 'medical informatics', 'health care information management', 'health care informatics' and 'medical librarianship'. They argue that the term health care informatics comprises (a) information for