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Nursing information systems (NIS) are computer systems that manage clinical data from a variety of healthcare environments, and made available in a timely and orderly fashion to aid nurses in improving patient care.

To achieve this, most Nursing Information Systems are designed using a database and at least one nursing classification language such as North American Nursing Diagnosis (NANDA), Nursing Intervention Classification (NIC) and Nursing Diagnosis Extension and Classification (NDEC).


Some of the features that are provided by Nursing Information Systems include:

  • Patient Charting: A patient’s vital signs, admission and nursing assessments, care plan and nursing notes can be entered into the system either as structured or free text. These are the stored in a central repository and retrieved when needed.

  • Staff Schedules: Nurse can self schedule their shifts using scheduling rules provided in shift modules. The shifts can later be confirmed or changed by a scheduling coordinator or manager. Shift modules are designed to handle absences, overtime, staffing levels and cost-effective staffing.

  • Clinical Data Integration: Here clinical information from all the disciplines can be retrieved, viewed and analysed by nursing staff and then integrated into a patient’s care plan.

  • Decision Support: Decision support module can be added to Nursing Information Systems, and they provide prompts and reminders, along with guides to disease linkages between signs/symptoms, etiologies/related factors and patient populations. Online access to medical resources can also be made available.

There are benefits to be enjoyed by implementing Nursing Information Systems and they include:

  • Improved workload functionality: Staffing levels and appropriate skill mix per shift can be more easily determined by the shift modules. This leads to less time spent in designing and amending rosters.

  • Better care planning: Time spent on care planning is reduced, while the quality of what is recorded is improved. This makes for more complete care plans and more complete assessments and evaluations.

  • Better drug administration: Electronically prescribed drugs are more legible, thus making it less likely that drugs would be wrongly administered to patients.

Despite the benefits Nursing Information Systems have to offer, they are not widely used in healthcare and where they have been installed, they have not been readily accepted. This could probably due to lack of adequate training and failure of educate the end-user what the reasons are for its introduction. Moreover, very little research has been done to determine the cost benefits or cost effectives of such information systems.



International Medical Informatics Association
American Medical Informatics Association
UK Health Informatics Society
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society

Knowledge Center
Biomedical Informatics
Health Informatics
Healthcare Technologies
Hospital Information Systems
Healthcare Information Systems Topics
Clinical Information Systems
Financial Information Systems
Laboratory Information Systems
Nursing Information Systems
Pharmacy Information Systems
Radiology Information Systems

Last Updated: 10 August 2006.

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