Why is Collaboration So Important?

Fran Beadle is the National Clinical Informatics lead for nursing at NHS Wales Informatics Service and a Fellow of the Faculty. Over the past two decades she has combined her nursing and informatics expertise to develop key improvements for patients and clinicians. In this article, Fran makes the case for improved involvement and communication with nursing around digital systems, to help engagement and adoption.

Who am I?

I started my nursing career as a Health Care Assistant in the Army, becoming a registered nurse in 2000. I moved to Abu Dhabi in 2003 and quickly developed my passion for informatics leading me to complete a degree in Health Informatics. My work led to the nursing development and subsequent implementation of an electronic health record across 11 government owned hospitals and 54 primary health care clinics. Now, I am back home to deliver similar solutions working for NHS Wales Informatics Service. My role is to advise on the development of standardised nursing information with the purpose of digitalising standards for the nursing community in Wales. I am also the chair of the BCS nursing specialist group and the Wales representative on the Five Countries Digital Nursing Leadership Group.

I believe that effective communication supports transformation and adoption of digital systems. Working in silos has been proven to delay implementation resulting in a decrease in user adoption as they do not feel part of the journey (Von Krogh & Naden, 2008). Lack of clinical engagement was also identified as a hindrance to implementing digital systems in the Wachter report (Wachter, 2016). It is time to engage nursing through all stages of design, testing implementation so we can improve user acceptance and adoption.

Engagement is the key for digital roll out success

Over the last decade, digital systems have often been poorly designed with limited input from nurses, resulting in systems that increase workloads rather than reduce them (Gagnon & Et Al, 2012). This has given nurses a dim view of how technology can improve their working lives. Strong local and national nursing leadership is essential to build the vision of the digital future for nursing. The inclusion of digital champions/leaders to help guide the language of digital will enable nursing leadership to be informed and adjust how information technology engages with nursing.

What does engagement mean?

Engagement means seeking active participation from people involved by obtaining feedback at conception and throughout the lifecycle of projects. This ensures that everyone understands what is happening and why and how they can actively contribute, influence, and share their experiences. This is the journey Wales are undertaking. We have nursing clinical informatics leads in every health board/trust to drive the digital and clinical agenda. While nursing leaders across Wales approve all forms of standardisation and digitisation of nursing documents and standards.

Collaboration the Key to Success

Key stakeholder involvement will not only support the development of systems and standards but also the staff to develop professionally and personally. Working collaboratively can grow expertise in the field of clinical informatics to support the evolution and development of digital systems that support care provision. It will ensure systems are informed and promote the collection and use of data to change the way care is provided.  Looking forward to the future, key digital and nursing stakeholders are working together to identify what nursing needs to move forward with digital transformation and break down silos to reduce duplication. This has culminated in a round table event led by the Five Countries Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Group, hosted by BCS Nursing and attended by the Faculty of Clinical Informatics, RCN, HEE, NMC, Council of Deans, Nursing Academia and many more nursing representatives in the digital space. A truly exciting future for nursing to change how digital is adopted by the nursing family.