Data and analytics play an important role in helping nurses improve patient care. Better access to studies and information from a wide variety of demographics helps nurses make a more accurate diagnosis. This is particularly true for mental health nurses.
Health informatics is playing a bigger role in healthcare
The information age has resulted in everyone enjoying greater access to information from all over the world. It is far easier to conduct studies because more people can be reached without a lot of hassle. Data can be gathered through online surveys or via telephone rather than in person. Doctors and other professionals may collaborate and share information to expand the reach of studies.
Electronic health records allow medical professionals to access and search through patient histories so they have the information they need to offer a higher level of care. Easy access to health histories can make a big difference in how quickly a patient receives the care they need for their situation.
Accurate and extensive medical records facilitate the use of evidence-based nursing practices to create treatment plans. There is a lower chance of a well-meaning healthcare worker making a mistake, such as prescribing a medication that could cause major side effects in the patient.
Data and analytics allow nurses to communicate better with patients and colleagues
Excellent communication is incredibly important in any healthcare field. The more informed and knowledgeable all parties are, the better the outcome for patients will be. Having good access to patient data and analytics can place healthcare teams on equal footing. When no one is being left out of the loop on a particular aspect of patient care, it is far less likely that mistakes or delays will occur.
Good access to analytics and data are helpful when explaining treatment plans to patients. Sometimes it can be difficult to convince someone to try a specific course of treatment. Having the right statistics and studies available to show them how effective some methods are can change someone’s mind and get them the care they need to move on with their life.
This level of knowledge is useful when family members ask hard questions. For example, mental health and substance abuse treatment can be difficult for families to understand. These treatments may seem like mere bandages even though they are actually well-researched and evidence-based. Showing examples of people who have responded well can go a long way toward gaining trust.
Informatics makes patient billing more accurate
Inaccurate insurance claims or billing can cause a lot of frustration, and a good patient record system substantially reduces the number of billing-related errors. Imagine what could happen if a procedure or treatment is recorded that was not administered. The high cost of many treatments means this can make a major difference in the overall bill. Correcting a medical claim often means refiling it with an insurance company, which can take several weeks.
For the medical facility administering treatment, accurate billing is important for a steady flow of cash. Without good record keeping, it is possible that some services are not billed, leading to a loss of income. On the other end, overpayment can make it hard for healthcare administrators to have an accurate picture of the financial viability of a healthcare facility.
Mental health nurses can use studies to better understand current mental health trends
There are times where some mental health issues are more common than others. Societal factors such as the economy can play a role. For example, during times of high unemployment, depression and substance abuse can manifest more often than usual. These issues often occur in the same person. Over time, a pattern emerges that allows mental health professionals to create a better treatment plan. It may be clear that a patient’s depression and substance abuse are primarily caused by the stress of finding a job.
In that case, treatment may not take very long because the solution is something that has nothing to do with a chemical imbalance. Counseling, assistance finding employment and access to financial resources could form the basis of the treatment plan. Temporarily prescribing medication to help with the symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal is another evidence-based solution that might be used.
Right now, many mental health professionals are dealing with patients who have mental health issues combined with addiction to opioids such as fentanyl. Severe drug abuse can lead to delusions that mimic serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. In some cases, the patient may have a major mental illness that is difficult to uncover due to how similar drug abuse symptoms can be to the illness itself. Since the drug epidemic has been going on for so long, mental health experts have better access to data and studies to help them treat complicated cases.
Studies and analytics decrease the likelihood of patient relapses
When more information is available to make an accurate diagnosis and assess the risk factors for each patient, there is a lower risk of relapse. Finding mental health solutions that work for a patient as quickly as possible with reduced side effects makes it far more likely they will stick to a program and not return to risky behaviors in the future.
Evidence-based mental healthcare means offering support services as part of a patient’s treatment. These services may include help finding affordable and clean living situations, access to financial resources and job placement, and regular check-ins.
Accurate patient records are essential for modern medical care
People do not settle down in one place for as long, on average, as they once did. Accurate electronic health records make it possible for patients to get excellent care when they move. A mental health professional can do a lot more to help a person if they have detailed case histories in front of them. Without these records, doctors are often sent back to the beginning, thus making it much slower for a patient to get the care they need.
Accurate patient records reduce the likelihood that someone can abuse the medical system
In the past, it was much easier for patients with substance abuse problems to go to different doctors with complaints and obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances. Thanks to electronic medical records, doctors now have better access to patient records that contain all prescription medication information. This means a doctor can see if a patient has a current prescription for any medication and whether they have a history of trying to acquire extra medications.
Limiting access to controlled substances helps break the cycle of addiction and prevents new addictions from developing.
The demand for mental health nurses has never been higher
In the US alone, 130 million people live in areas without sufficient mental health workers. That is an outstanding figure that is causing some worry. Without adequate mental health professionals, many people do not have access to the care they need to have a good quality of life. For those looking for a career where they can truly help others and enjoy good job prospects and amazing opportunities, there has never been a better time to train as a mental health professional.
Mental health nursing is one of the more skilled areas that will be in very high demand. Nurses looking for a career change or opportunity for advancement should consider working toward an advanced degree online. Marymount University offers excellent psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs online. Students can choose from a Masters, Doctorate, or Post-masters certificate program depending on their career goals and past education.
Is a mental health career right for you?
Working in mental health is extremely rewarding, but it is not for everyone. There can be intense emotional loads on a daily basis. However, if you like to help others and have some past healthcare experience, you are likely well prepared to embark on a mental health career.
As a nurse practitioner, your duties might include diagnosing patients, making referrals, prescribing medications and creating treatment plans.
Mental health nurses work in a variety of locations, including hospitals, residential care centers, detention facilities, community health centers and universities.
Working in mental health can allow you to relocate
When you have the skills to take on a job that is in high demand, employers work hard to recruit you. This means having a lot of different options when it comes to where you work. If you would like to make a change and relocate, there is a good chance that with an advanced degree in a mental health field, you will have your choice of opportunities. Some medical facilities even offer sign-on bonuses and help with relocation expenses.
A career as a mental health nurse can allow you to help specific segments of people
Just like social workers, mental health nurses have the opportunity to work in locations and specific facilities that enable them to dedicate their work day to helping specific demographics of people. For example, if you like to work with children and adolescents, working at a school or juvenile detention center are just two options that would allow you to work daily with younger people and help them become productive and fulfilled adults. Another option would be working at a specialty private practice.
Mental health nurses are constantly learning
Being a great mental health nurse means constantly learning about new treatments and conditions. No two patients are the same, even if there are quite a few similarities. Being able to offer a quick diagnosis because you recognize the signs of a specific condition means you can get patients the help they need faster, which can make a huge difference when someone is facing a mental health crisis. A love for learning is necessary if you want to excel at your career and offer the highest level of patient care possible.
Great communication skills are a must
If you are the type of person who can talk and relate to just about anyone, you could make a fantastic mental health nurse. Being able to empathize with someone who is having a hard time is critical. It is important that patients and their families feel that you are listening to everything they have to say and giving their concerns the attention they deserve.
Another very important part of patient and family communication is being able to keep your own emotions in check. Mental health treatment can make people extremely emotional and prone to lashing out. Family members and other support may have a hard time hearing that a family member needs some treatment. All too often, loved ones have no idea about the depth a mental illness or substance abuse goes.
How can I become a mental health nurse if I do not have a bachelor’s degree in nursing?
Even if you do not have a degree in nursing at the moment, you may qualify for faster-paced programs that allow you to complete a degree and get your nursing license at an accelerated pace if you have a different type of degree. There are plenty of people who are making major career changes and succeeding in the healthcare field. After you gain your registered nurse certification, you can take your career even further and obtain an advanced degree online.
Data, analytics and accurate electronic patient records have made it possible for nurses to offer a much higher level of patient care. Patients receive more precise and timely diagnoses, and medical facilities make fewer mistakes, which can be particularly important in mental health services.
Better data and studies allow medical staff to communicate more effectively with patients, other staff, and any family members that are involved in care and treatment. More efficient record-keeping prevents costly billing mistakes, thereby reducing the average cost of healthcare for everyone.