The Inclusion of Nurses in the Systems Development Life Cycle

At present, healthcare organizations are fast turning to emerging health information systems to meet the ever-changing demands within the clinical environment. A dedicated Health information system (HIS), hence, enables the collection, evaluation, monitoring, and storage of valued health-related data to inform the decision-making process and in promoting efficiency in care  (Ofei & Paarima, 2021). The involvement of nurses is, therefore, typically recommended during the purchasing and implementation of new health information systems for the purposes of orientation and familiarity. However, deliberate failure to involve nurses in the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is likely to have far-reaching consequences for any organization attempting to purchase and subsequently implement new information technology systems.

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            The exclusion of nurses during SDLC’s inception and planning phase exposes any given healthcare organization to the possibility of remaining oblivious of potential challenges in the nurse practice environment soon after operationalization. It is noteworthy to acknowledge that health information technology is not full-proof but susceptible risks posed by nominal faults likely to compromise patients’ confidentiality in case of a data security breach. According to McKay & Vanaskie (2018), the initial failure of healthcare technological systems is directly linked to partial inclusion of healthcare professionals during inception and an overall failure to fully exploit their potential. However, the inclusion of nurses during the planning stage will go a long way in guaranteeing the success of new health information systems.  Nurses’ input will be essential in aligning organizational goals with patients’ needs to guarantee efficiency soon after implementation. Furthermore, nurses are better placed to identify key objectives, feasibility, and   the overall compatibility of new information technology systems due to their wealth of experience within a clinical setting.

            Healthcare organizations which fail to involve nurses in the design phase of SDLC may experience great difficulty in properly identifying the intended purpose of a new information technology system. In this scenario, the healthcare organization and design team will be unable to determine whether a new information technology system corresponds with practitioners’ skill set and professional capacity of end users. Nurses’ absence during the design phase may eventually result in the installation of new advanced information technology systems well beyond nurses’ skills and proficiency. Yet, nurses’ inclusion in the design phase may address this problem. Nurses’ participation is recommended when attempting to ascertain the functionality of a particular system, whether or not the interface is user friendly, and networking capabilities (Ruggiero et al., 2019). They will also help improve the system by presenting safety recommendations while preparing the healthcare organization for unforeseen or unintended consequences.

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            The elimination of nurses from the implementation phase crates a scenario where a healthcare organization will be unable to determine and identify potential pitfalls associated with the new system.  Today, the nurses’ scope of practice and their direct involvement in nearly all units within a healthcare organization often means that they are best placed to test the actual practicality of a new healthcare system and whether it will serve its intended purpose (Westra & Newbold, 2016).  Nevertheless, their involvement in the implementation will ensure they promote the operationalization of the new systems and the final customization. According to Zngerle & Kingston (2016), the involvement of nurses during the implementation and final installation of new information technology systems allows healthcare organizations to determine their practical usability. This will also pave the way for the identification of potential disadvantages and medical limitations of new information technology system.

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            During my nursing practice, I had direct input in the selection and planning of a new healthcare information technology system. My healthcare organization had initially expressed interest in nursing informatics and invited staff to propose healthcare systems suited for organization. Eventually, my Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) proposal for patients suffering from chronic health conditions was formally adopted. RPM was particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic since clinical staff were still able to evaluate and monitor patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension without requiring frequent hospital visits. Thus, the integration of RPM within our healthcare organization allowed healthcare organization to address traditional barriers to healthcare by leveraging technology and promoting self-care among patients.

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