Oct 16 2020

Q&A: Danielle Siarri on the Latest in Nursing Informatics

This 2020 HealthTech influencer explains how the pandemic and its “massive push” for health IT is driving better technology implementations for clinical staff.

Clinical staff play a vital role in society. Yet the public sharing of information about what care delivery methods and technologies work best for caregivers is not always encouraged, which can inadvertently hinder the industry’s ability to provide better care experiences and outcomes for patients down the road.

“As a clinician, as a nurse, we were really taught to not put ourselves out there,” says Danielle Siarri, a resident nurse turned social media ambassador and influencer.

In a recent conversation with HealthTech, Siarri tells us that she’s spent the past five years deconditioning herself of this mindset. And now, as an adjunct professor at the University of New England and lead publisher of the healthcare technology news site InnoNurse, she can say with confidence that she realizes the importance of sharing her knowledge and research with the world — whether that be in France, Spain or the other 38 countries where she’s traveled for her work. “That’s what you’re supposed to do,” she says.

While making our list of 30 Healthcare IT Influencers Worth a Follow in 2020, we spoke with Siarri to learn about some of the latest nursing informatics and health IT challenges that organizations currently face and how they’re being addressed. Here’s what she had to say:

HEALTHTECH: How do you see the health IT landscape changing now due to the pandemic?

SIARRI: I feel like health IT is undergoing a massive push now, where before it felt like you were pulling people along, you were trying to bring people in and integrate them with health technology.

There were a lot of issues. For example, telehealth was an issue as far as reimbursement and repayment. And now, since the pandemic, there’s been a big push for telehealth.

So, I’ve been working with a lot of different clients doing a lot of education, whether it be telehealth or something else. I’ve been doing telephone consults with patients a lot more than before as well. So, I would say those are two biggest things I’ve seen right now with the push for technology.

HEALTHTECH: What would you say is the most pressing challenge facing healthcare IT teams today?

SIARRI: Whether it’s software that’s rolling out or a medical device, everyone’s learning how to do those things anew. At the start of all of this, the challenges were more around equipment supplies. I was helping nurses find masks so they could go visit the patients that they needed to see.

Now, because we can’t do everything that we used to before the pandemic, people are starting to ask, “Where is our place in this whole physical realm, and what technologies should we use?”

So, like I said, it was a big push for me to get people to even use technology before the pandemic, but now people are adapting really quickly to using things like videoconferencing, whether that’s Zoom or Google Hangouts. People are looking for anything that can help them avoid having to do things face to face.

HEALTHTECH: As a nurse advocate, how important is it to you that nurses are included in the technology decision making process?

SIARRI: I think it’s paramount. The way I see it, it was — and it is — our table, and we’re inviting other people to it and working as a team. As for me, as far as nursing informatics, we’re the translators. We’re this person that could talk to the administration, talk to IT on the business piece and explain why this data is important and why nurses are asking for it. We can say, “This is the value.”

Danielle Siarri
We’re this person that could talk to the administration, talk to IT on the business piece and explain why this data is important and why nurses are asking for it."

Danielle Siarri Lead Publisher, InnoNurse

So now I see — more so now than, say, five years ago — a lot more people pivoting toward clinicians to integrate them. Say a team has a vendor, software or new technology — the organizations are putting clinicians on the team and include them in the conversation.

Often in the past, I would see products rolled out with zero clinical input, and you could tell when the product was launched that it didn’t make sense to the clinical workflow. So I think it’s paramount to have a clinician on your team when you’re developing a product, because how do you know what clinicians want if there’s no clinician voice there?

HEALTHTECH: Have you seen the partnership between IT and clinical teams grow since the pandemic has taken hold?

SIARRI: I’ve definitely had more clinicians tell me they are going to be the person to roll up with IT. So IT is reaching out and getting the clinicians ready to have that conversation with them.

I feel that there is more of an attempt to bridge the gap in the communication, but it’s just a start. As the pandemic ramped up, I think we needed to work better together as a team. That has to ramp up as well.

HEALTHTECH: Where do you think health IT teams often fall short when implementing new technology for clinical staff? What could still be improved upon?

SIARRI: I see it in the use of language when I’m looking at a system. Sometimes I’ll see things like the positioning of a button that might not seem like a big deal to an IT person, but for a clinician it is. So it’s having that conversation to pull everybody together between the must-haves, the wants, the needs and what’s required by law and by policy for a system.

HEALTHTECH: Heading into 2021, what technologies should we all keep our eyes on going forward?

SIARRI: As far as technology and what’s going to happen next year, I think it’s anybody’s guess. It’s dealer’s choice.

My gut feeling says that it’s going to be more telehealth, more telephone conversations. I think we’re all learning what can we live without. We’re asking ourselves, “What do we really need? What’s really important?”

That’s the lens that I’m looking through to keep myself safe, keep my family safe and keep the people I work around safe. So as far as 2021, I just see people pivoting more to what can be done online versus face to face.

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