I’ve opined in the past about how strongly I think the health care industry in the USA needs a does of information technology. One profession making impressive strides in this area is America’s nurses.
On the one hand, we have NDNQI, the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI®). NDNQI is a repository for nursing-sensitive indicators collected at the nursing unit level. Since it began in the late 1990’s, the program has added many hospitals as well as additional data points (that is, the quality indicators). Lots of useful resources and good reading can be found here.
In addition to NDNQI, we have some excellent work being done by the Veteran’s Administration in their VANOD (VA Nursing Outcomes Database) project, which you can read about here. VANOD is also discussed in a nice presentation by the program manager here. You can download the PPT file directly here.
By tracking health care practices in aggregate and monitoring their outcomes, we can find direct correlation or, even better causation, for better health of patients when multiple practices can be used. For example, let’s say there are a few competing standard practices around the routine for taking the temperature of patients in a hospital – some take temperatures manually in the morning, some take temperatures manually in the evening, and a luck few who can afford the equipment take temperatures automatically through a sensor on the patient. If the data in aggregate is able to show that the automated method yields a measurable improvement in outcomes, then that approach can justified against the expense because we know patients are doing better. The American Nurses Association (ANA) reports on such progress here.
Additional technologies of interest are being reported, such as this article at www.SmarterTechnology.com and this article at www.InformationWeek.com. In fact, in indication of the importance health care information technology, InformationWeek has a really good portal dedicated just to that at http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/index.jhtml.
Congratulations to the ANA and to the VA for transforming data into actionable knowledge!