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Mobile Tech in Nursing Informatics

Nurses Leading Innovation
April 12, 2016
Mobile Tech in Nursing Informatics

Jason J. Fratzke, RN, MSN, is the chief nursing informatics officer for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. With the increased integration of technological advancements within all areas of healthcare, Fratzke dedicates a significant portion of his time to the use of mobile technology in facilitating nursing workflow. 

Fratzke was an early leader in the advancement of an icon-based mobile app used in nursing for patient data documentation into electronic health records (EHR) and care. Currently, he is working to tailor a similar mobile app for nurses at Mayo Clinic. The use of this app will be launched at Mayo Clinic in mid-2017 and will help nurses to document real-time patient assessment documentation such as vital signs and pain scales into the EHR more quickly and efficiently. The app has other capabilities such as barcode medication administration and “pop-up notifications” to alert nurses of significant patient information and results. 

NN: Why do you think your nurse perspective was so important for the development of mobile apps for nurses?

Jason: With my knowledge of nursing informatics, I can act as a “translator” for nurses when needed to relay their requirements to IT and help develop a solution. As a registered nurse, my career began as a staff nurse working in general pediatrics, progressing to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and emergency department before heading into the management track and nursing informatics. With my background as a bedside nurse, I have direct experience in the daily needs of nurses. Now, I can meet those needs through my training and education in nursing informatics and by helping Mayo Clinic utilize a mobile app that more efficiently records and communicates clinical data, and allows for a rapid response to changing conditions.

NN: What inspired you to address the need for mobile applications and software for nurses?

Jason: I’ve been a nurse for more than 21 years, and I’ve always been interested in technology. Because of my hands-on patient care experience, I was able to recognize how the impact of electronic documentation at a stationary desktop computer was hindering mine and my nursing colleagues’ productivity. Clearly the lack of mobility was a nuisance that could be avoided if done right at the bedside. Therefore, with my background in nursing informatics and great input from other nurses, I was able to develop and prototype new solutions with a talented team. 

NN: Personally, what has been the biggest reward of working toward implementing a mobile app for patient data documentation for use by nurses?

Jason: The greatest reward stemming from my work is seeing the ideas and concepts from nurses come to fruition and allow them the opportunity to be more proficient in patient care. In many hospitals, nurses don’t have access to robust mobile apps for clinical viewing and data recording, so they typically utilize ”brain sheets” (paper pocket shift summaries) or try to remember patient information, and then go to a desktop computer at the nurses station when they have a moment to plug it into the system. With mobile apps that allow data entry, nurses will be able to complete documentation while at the bedside, receive real-time mobile notifications on significant patient results, and have complete records of medication and other information about their patients at their fingertips.

NN: What challenges did you face in the process and how did you overcome those obstacles?

Jason: As with any development of a product, there are institutional limitations and challenges. We’re competing against other priority initiatives and racing toward the finish line to develop our products ahead of the competition. Sometimes, our ideas are ahead of the current technology used in healthcare, so the timing for the new product is essential. The most important tactic to overcome obstacles is surrounding yourself with a strong and diverse team and using their collective skills and wisdom.  I think you must also be ready and willing to fail during the course of the development.  I see failure as nothing more than new opportunities for improvement.  Ultimately, the motivation to push forward in this project has been easy, as it will facilitate a more efficient method of documentation for nurses while enhancing patient safety.

NN: What significant changes have you seen in the nursing profession since you began practicing?

Jason: Nursing informatics is still one of the “best kept secrets” in healthcare, even though nursing was at the forefront of informatics credentialing some 20 years ago. As technological advancements continue to grow and take hold in healthcare, the unique skill set of nursing informatics is becoming more well-known and desired throughout patient care.   

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