American Sentinel University Details How Cloud Computing Has the Potential to Revolutionize Health Care

– Cloud-based Applications Benefit Nurses and Patients at Point of Care –

AURORA, Colo. – February 12, 2013 – Cloud computing has the potential to revolutionize health care administration by allowing providers to access information from a patient’s medical file at anytime from any where and that means patients receive better and more efficient quality care.

“Everything in health care today is so dependent on computers and cloud computing is the repository for all of these transactions,” says Suzanne Richins, DHA, MBA, FACHE, RN, chair, health information management and health care administration at American Sentinel University. “Cloud computing benefits nurses at point of care because no matter where the patient has a diagnostic test, the cloud ensures that data is available everywhere.”

The ‘cloud’ is an intangible, but ubiquitous presence in our tech-laden lives, allowing health care professionals to access all patient data across multiple devices and from any location with an Internet connection.

As an IT strategy, cloud computing took the business world by storm, allowing companies to store massive amounts of data virtually, rather than making a huge investment in developing and maintaining their own information system storage. Yet, health care has been a relative latecomer to cloud computing, largely because of the industry’s unique data security, regulatory, and patient privacy concerns.

“Laws require protection of pertinent information to ensure both confidentiality and privacy and before a health care organization contracts with a cloud organization, management needs to ensure that the cloud can meet the requirements of both HIPPA and meaningful use,” says Richins.

The mandate to widely adopt electronic medical records (EMRs), however, is expected to change that and a recent report by research firm MarketsandMarkets projected health care-related cloud computing will become a $5.4 billion global industry by 2017, encompassing both clinical and non-clinical applications.

Health Care Benefits from Cloud Computing

The most significant benefit cloud computing offers health care is data access.

When patient information is stored in the cloud, providers can access lab results, imaging scans and other pertinent test results at anytime and in any place, allowing for improved care coordination and better decision-making.

“As the move toward accountable care organizations (ACOs) drives the need for a better flow of information between primary care providers, specialists and case managers, clinical use of the cloud is likely to expand to include mobile applications that deliver data to tablets and smartphones,” adds Richins.

Most importantly, cloud-based platforms can allow collaboration between providers in real-time, from nearly any device that can connect to the Internet so health care organizations can manage data with more agility when working in the cloud.

Cloud Computing at the Bedside

Cloud computing benefits IT staff, nurse informaticians involved with EMR implementation and even the hospital’s bottom line. But Richins points out that health care will start seeing innovative, cloud-based applications that benefit nurses and patients at the point of care.

One example is Ultimate Caregiver, a nurse call system which merges pull cord technology with the power of cloud computing and mobile devices to allow for wireless paging and generated staff response reports.

When a patient rings for a nurse, the call signal is processed in the cloud and alerts are sent to nurses in the form of texts, e-mails, pages, or phone calls. This allows nurses to be more efficient on the floor, as the closest staff member can respond quickly to the patient and no one is tied to a nursing station to track patient call signals.

The use of cloud computing will also have a positive impact on career nursing opportunities in nursing informatics.

Richins notes that all of the third-party payers, including the government require reporting of quality measures and nurse informaticists are responsible for analyzing the data for reporting to these organizations.

“Nurse informaticists are critical to identification of problems, the root cause and identification of solutions and now that the payers do not reimburse for certain diagnoses, readmissions and hospital-acquired infections, nurse informatics are critical to the process as all decision-making requires evidence that comes from the data,” says Richins.

Cloud-based computing is also a boon to home health nurses, giving them easy access to accurate data, allowing them to document visits and update charts in real-time and freeing them from the cumbersome daily synchronization routine.

Richins notes that health care is in need of nurses who can analyze technologies from both the bedside and IT perspectives.

“Health informatics is the new frontier of health care and one of the fastest growing fields today. Nurses with a nursing informatics specialization will be in high demand to manage health information systems critical to the mission of health care delivery,” says Richins.

She points out that while opportunities in nursing informatics are plentiful, nursing informatics is not an entry-level career.

“RNs who find work in this specialty typically have several years of experience and professional education in both information systems and nursing,” adds Richins.

A registered nurse with an associate degree in nursing can purse a nursing informatics degree by taking the RN to BSN courses or RN to MSN courses. If a nurse already has a BSN, they can enter directly into the MSN program with a concentration in nursing informatics.

American Sentinel University helps prepare nurses for a variety of careers in nursing informatics with an online Master of Science in Nursing, Nursing Informatics specialization degree program that emphasizes understanding the infrastructure necessary to improve practice while safeguarding the security and privacy of data.

Learn more about American Sentinel University’s CCNE-accredited Master’s of Science in Nursing, Nursing Informatics program.

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About American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online nursing degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Health Care, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.