Wednesday, March 11, 2009

RCN conference - Moving technology into practice

Today I've had a "Day in the Bay" - the subtitle of the Royal College of Nursing's Conference "Moving technology into practice" - and the bay in question was Cardiff Bay as the conference was at the Wales Millenium Centre - an impressive venue I'd not visited before.

The day was opened by Tina Donnell the Director of RCN Wales. She dealt with housekeeping issues and then described her impressions and experiences with ehealth - particularly related to the use of telecare functions will serving with the territorial army. She focused the audience on developments in Wales particularly the work of Informing Healthcare and the growing emphasis on nurse involvement in these developments at all levels. Identified timelines for development and the need for technology to support the "management imperatives" were stressed, and on a wider, UK, basis ehealth has been adopted as one of 7 professional priorities identified in the RCNs 2008-09 strategy.

Dame June Clark then took the podium to introduce the first keynote speaker Norma M. Lang from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who took for the title of her presentation "From patient data to nursing knowledge for nursing practice. She described she and her colleagues/team have been doing in the US in identifying from a range of strategic documents key practice standards or phenomena of concern for nurses and nursing and identifying the process for developing and embedding actionable nursing knowledge within clinical information systems. She set these out as her vision for the future.

After a good networking opportunity over a cop of coffee the next speaker was David Baker from the Association of Nursing Students who presented the results of a survey of student preparedness for ehealth and the Oct 2008 workshop held to discuss these and develop an action plan for the RCN as reported on this blog as: RCN workshop - getting eHealth into pre-reg education. The survey results and workshop report are now available online. The lack of students passwords for clinical systems which encourage the sharing of passwords caused most discussion in the subsequent question and answer session.

A second David followed - this time David Lloyd from Bangor university, who described the welsh context for ehealth developments and highlighted a range of issues about the sharing of patient records, particularly patients who may receive treatment in both England and Wales where different electronic records systems are being deployed which may not be able to share data. He then went on to set out the principles of the Model of Nursing Information first set out by Rodney Hughes and explored the concepts of maximum and minimum nursing data sets. Some of the important issues for consideration which are raised by these approaches were then explored. Pauline Tang from Cardiff University then picked up the threads and explored some of their significance for education and practice.

The final keynote was by Peter Carter the Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN. He emphasised the importance of developing quality measures relating to nursing, collecting the information to analyse them and then using them to improve patient care. There was a close similarity between the indicators he identified and those discussed previously which are being used in the US and were described in Norma Lang's presentation. He argued, as had many in the audience that senior level nursing input was vital and was proud of being instrumental in getting a nursing director into Connecting for Health and discussed the implications of the impending arrival of the Care Quality Commission replacing the previously separate regulators for health and social care. He used a humorous story to illustrate the importance of practitioners rather than "techies" being the ones to specify, refine and implement clinical systems.

The formal conference was closed by June Clark who tried to summarise the key messages from the day. Ehealth is not for the future nut is for now and that we (nurses, nursing & the RCN) are not ready. She touched on the coming "nursing metrics" and the importance of nurses taking responsibility for using knowledge systems to underpin their decision making.

After the close of the formal conference delegates were invited to a reception in the Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales, hosted by Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas the presiding officer of the Assembly, who welcomed delegates in Welsh (translation provided) and highlighted recent developments in the Welsh NHS and the inclusion of nurses on important strategic bodies. Brief comments were also made by Peter Carter and June Clark who also presented Norma Lang with a Welsh Love Spoon.

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