by James Coburn
Rizza Lacson will have a first-time experience in life and so will St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City. In February Lacson will become the first nursing informatics specialist at St. Anthony. She will transition from her current role as a charge nurse on the tenth-floor med surg unit.
She is familiar with the course of events. St. Anthony changed from paper charting to EPIC, the electronic health care record, in 2011.
As a natural leader Lacson volunteered to be a Super User of the electronic health record to be of support to her peers.
Her manager in 2012-13, Noni Erb, encouraged her to become a nursing informatics representative for the med surg unit.
“So I got involved in the conference calls. We go and have face-to-face meetings in Missouri which is the corporate office,” Lacson said. “I’ve been involved in a couple of EPIC upgrades now, giving feedbacks,” she explained. “So I’ve been doing it off-and-on basically for four years.” “I was kind of doing it on the side for an extra-curricular activity. Just recently St. Anthony decided they need somebody full-time to do it.”
Nursing informatics is an emergency specialty in nursing. It combines the science of nursing with information management,” Lacson noted.
As a specialist Lacson will serve as a liaison for the nurses and IT (information technology) people. Nursing informatics specialists receive feedback from the bedside nurses if there is something needing to be changed. Lacson would communicate that information to the IT staff.
The informatics nurse would also relate to the IT staff when regulatory measures are introduced as well as core measures of care. IT will assist nurses in documentation through the electronic health record when these new measures are introduced. Lacson would then educate the nurses about the new process.
So Lacson will utilize her skills to interpret what the nurses need to use technology better. This improves the work flow and charting processes.
“I think my goal in nursing informatics is be a voice for those bedside nurses,” she added.
Lacson has seen how frustrating it can be when technology is not serving the purpose of nursing. Her experience provides empathy and effective communication throughout her course of the day.
“My goal is to make our EHR efficient, that the nurse will spend less time charting and more time at the bedside,” she said. “So if I accomplish that, I think I will have met my purpose.”
She also plans to reach out to other SSM hospitals for mentoring. The field of informatics is always evolving so the need to be updated as a nurse is essential, she said.
“Informatics is kind of like involved at every table,” she said. “I’m also involved in what we call a Practice Council. Basically the Practice Councils are nurses that meet once a month. We talk about our policies; we talk about any changes regulatory-wise and all that stuff. And so we want the informatics to be at that table so they can evaluate.”
She will be working with the four St. Anthony Healthplexes in the metroplex. These Healthplexes already have product specialists so Lacson anticipates working with the nursing staff as her primary focus.
“We’re growing,” she said.
Helping nurses be more efficient in charting provides them more time at the bedside to be attentive to patient care which is a standard hallmark of St. Anthony Hospital.
“One of the things I am passionate about is the MAR team which is the medical administration record,” she said.
Feedback from the nurses is communicated by the informatics specialist to the products information staff for improvement sake. A newsletter is sent out every month notifying nurses of the approved changes.
“That’s one of the exciting things I’ve seen that is tangible. We’ve had feedback. They’ve heard me and now we’ve made changes,” Lacson said. EPIC promptly plugs in valuable information into the system of nursing care.
“Nurses document a lot. We have a lot of things we need to remember,” she said.
Future projects being developed are work lists. These are check lists for nurses resembling a test, she explained. The project will be time consuming, however, Lacson thrives on improvement.
“You need to be passionate about being a part of the change,” Lacson said. “You need to know that change is always inevitable, and we have to be open to changes.”
An informatics specialist needs to enjoy educating people and be a people person, she said. It is important not to take things personally when hearing frustrations, she added.
“Be open to criticism and feedback. I don’t know everything, but I’m open,” she said.
Lacson is busy on her feet a lot talking with a lot of people which is something she enjoys, but she also has a personal life.
She and her husband have a 2-year-old son who keep them busy. She reads a lot and plans to visit her 98-year-old grandfather in the Philippines where she was born.
“We’re going to have a big family reunion and I’m going to get to see cousins from around the world.”