IT of The Tiger: TIGER Initiative supports nurses using technology

Those of you attending HIMSS12 this week – beware! There are TIGERs on the loose. Not to be confused with the fercious felines or cereal mascot, these TIGERS support the Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform Initative aka TIGER. The mission of this collaborative is to prepare nurses and healthcare professionals to use technology and informatics to improve patient care.

TIGER began with a summit in 2006, where over 100 leaders in nursing, education, government, informatics and techonology got together and crafted a vision and action plan to help IT and nursing professionals work together to provide safer, high-quality patient care. From 2007 to 2009, TIGER implemented phase II of the initiative. Work groups were tasked with answering the question, “What does every practicing nurse need to know about this topic?” as it applied to nine focus areas including: Standards & Interoperability, National Health IT Agenda, Usability & Clinical Application Design and Staff Development to name a few.

Today TIGER is building on the suggestions in the work groups’ reports, securing funding for pilot projects and a virtual learning environment to improve adoption of IT and creating an international prescence. An interdisciplinary invitational summit is also in the works to address EHRs and comparative effectiveness research.

TIGER is also integrating recommendations on:

  • Developing a U.S. nursing workforce capable of using EHRs to improve healthcare delivery
  • Engaging clinicians in the development of a Nationwide Health Information Technology infrastructure
  • Accelerating adoption of smart, standards-based,  interoperable, patient-centered technology that will make healthcare delivery  safer,  timely, accessible, and more efficient

It’s great to see nurses being proactive and becoming involved in setting policy and practice standards at the ground level. Often we as a profession sit on the sidelines and wait passively to receive rules and recommendations created by people who aren’t nurses and don’t understand how we work and what our needs are.

With about 3 million registered nurses in the U.S., RNs are the largest number of healthcare professionals in the country. This also means they’ll likely be the largest group to use and to be affected by new technology. This why groups like TIGER are so important. Nurses need to give input on how informatics and technology impacts their jobs and patient care. If the largest group of end users of healthcare technology aren’t invested and on-board with implementation, we’ll miss out on using these tools to their full potential.

TIGER is a way for nurses to get involved and take ownership of how IT will influence their profession. For it to be successful, nurses at all levels need to participate. I’ve ofetn noticed that when opportunities for nurses to influence practice arise, it’s the RNs in academia or administration who take charge. But for change to be successful, buy-in and input from bedside nurses needs to happen.

If you aren’t already a TIGER consider becoming one. If you are in management or academia and want to join, invite a bedside nurse you know to join with you. If you’re already a TIGER, I encourage you to do the same. Seek out some new recruits among the legions of bedside nurses out there. And if you’re not a nurse you can still be a TIGER. You can find out more about TIGER at HIMSS this week where the TIGER Institute will take place from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24.

If you’re interested in learning more stop by…..I’m sure they don’t bite!

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Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ

Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ, is a registered nurse and journalist who has covered healthcare issues and how they relate to the nursing profession. She began her nursing career as a neuroscience nurse at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and then transitioned to journalism after receiving a degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She has edited and written numerous articles on a wide range of nursing and healthcare topics like Accountable Care Organizations, evidence-based practice and telehealth.

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