Nursing portal finally ready to go

A new health care portal, dubbed NurseONE, is to launch inSaskatoon in June, the result of dogged efforts by the FirstNations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada and theCanadian Nurses Association (CNA) to provide remote and ruralnurses with a personalized interactive web-based resource.

NurseONE hopes to advance patient safety by giving nurses accessto evidence-based information through journals and onlinelibraries, online development tools, and notification of publichealth concerns and advisories for increased emergencypreparedness.

But none of that happened overnight, according to Barbara Oke,executive director of the Office of Nursing Services in FNIHB.

“The portal dates back to 2002, just after the Office of NursingServices was created,” she said. “They were going through theexercise of developing a nursing strategy that would take themforward for the next four years.”

The information management/information technology piece of thatstrategy involved discussions around a nursing portal, seen at thetime as an area where nurses could go to find the most recentinformation, evidence and critical support to enhance theirpractice at the community level, said Oke.

“While that work was being done at FNIHB, there was a largerinitiative at the CNA and they were talking about the same thingfor all nurses. The heads of the two organizations got together andeveryone began to see it as a win-win.”

CNA took over the actual development of the portal and FNIHBmade sure their nurses and Band-employed nurses were recognized inthe development.

“There are approximately 630 First Nations reserves acrossCanada and there are nurses on each one of those,” Oke said. “Halfof them are direct employees of Health Canada or FNIHB and theother half are Band-employed – those are the nurses, through theregional offices, that we work with.”

The challenge in remote communities is accessing information andlibrary resources, as well as having the opportunity to talk tonurse experts on specific issues, she said. That is why NurseONEhas such a strong First Nations component as well as FNIHBfunding.

“The funding is through a contribution agreement with CNA,” Okesaid. “We funded it for almost $4 million over a two-year period.In that period the infrastructure allowing the portal to reflectthe needs of nurses in all domains had to be completed.”

The clinical practice area is the most widely known, accordingto Oke. But there are also nurse educators, nurse administrators ornurse managers and nurse researchers that have to be accounted for.There are also policy experts.

“We wanted to make sure that the portal made sense to nurses,”she said. “The way that a researcher works is different than theway a clinical nurse at the bedside at a community health carecentre or a nursing station works. It had to be very userfriendly.”

Nurses were consulted widely throughout the entire development.”Student nurses provided an interesting perspective because theyare going to be in our workplace of the future,” Oke said.

Nurses in First Nations communities tested the portal inFebruary.

“Nurses had the opportunity to provide feedback and to say, ‘welike this, we don’t like that, this doesn’t work, or this doesn’tmake sense to me,'” Oke said. “Close to 70 per cent of the nurses’feedback was exceptionally positive, but the exciting part of itwas that we got information to make it better.”

Nurses can also develop their own pages on the portal so thatthe web sites they visit frequently depending on clients’ needs canbe saved to their own pages and they can also develop a continuingcompetency program file for themselves.

“Until now all of these things weren’t necessarily available inall places nurses worked,” Oke said.

NurseONE is about decision making, according to ChristopheKerv

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