coverComputers in Nursing : Bridges to the Future

Linda Q. Thede 1999
Lippincott ISBN 0-7817-1557-1
Price: £21.00

A personal review by Rod Ward

This book covers a wealth of material about computers and their use, and applies this to nursing settings. Each chapter starts with some learning objectives and is concluded with exercises for the reader.

The book is divided into 4 units;

  1. About Computers
  2. Computers as Personal Productivity Tools
  3. Computers as Communication Tools
  4. Computers as Patient Care Tools
Each area is described and illustrated with diagrams and figures with several screen shots to illustrate key points.

Unit 1

The first unit has 3 chapters setting out the need to manage information and then dealing with hardware and software, and basic guidance on the uses of various computer components and peripherals. The software section gives a brief overview of Windows and some applications, and some basic principles of programming. There seems to be an assumption here, and throughout the book, that users will have Windows 95/98 and little consideration is given to other operating systems, Win 31., Mac etc. There is also a brief consideration of copyright issues.

Unit 2

The second unit comprises of 8 chapters, covering basic software applications including word-processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, and databases including bibliographic databases. Attempts are made to identify key functions which are common to a range of products, particularly the "office suites", however many of illustrations/screen shots are from Microsoft products, which will not always look the same with other manufacturers programs.

Attempts are made to illustrate some of the underlying concepts of computer use, and describe aspects such as multitasking and sharing data between programs to persuade the reader of potential benefits of use.

Good attempts have been made to illustrate usage with examples from nursing and midwifery.

Unit 3

This unit examines computers as communication tools. It gives a general overview of the internet including both hardware and software considerations and guidelines for usage of email etc. The second chapter considers mailing lists and newsgroups before addressing the world wide web including search engines and other web technologies such as java, streaming, video conferencing etc. A brief sections considers issues around assessing the quality of information available and how to evaluate this. The final chapter in this unit is more focussed on the healthcare applications of these technologies, ranging from support groups and databases to telehealth applications.

Unit 4

The final unit is built around computers as patient care tools. The first chapter explores information systems, with particular emphasis on hospital information systems, setting out potential applications, and looking at what is needed for implementation. There does not seem to be conbsideration of community/primary care systems. The second chapter on Nursing Classification Systems seems to be the most American orientated, particularly with all the abreviations of diffferent bodies working in the area, although there is a short section on "The European Scene". The next chapter explores the advantages and disadvantages of computerized patient records, including security and data sharing issues. The final brief chapter attempts to place nursing informatics in context.

General Comments

This sis a useful book for many healthcare practitioners beginning their exploration of computer technology and it's implications for healthcare practice. It is clearly written and supported by a comprehensive index. The inclusion of learning objectives and excercises with each chapter enhance the learning, and are all achievable with the book and a little effort.

The inclusion of "Bridges to the Future" as a subtitle is a little misleading as there is little comment or speculation about where we could be heading in the use of computers in nursing. However the book does provide a useful summary of "where we are now".

The book is distributed in the UK by;

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
c/o Plymbridge Distributors Ltd,
Plymout PL6 7PY
Tel: +44 (0)1752 202301
Fax: +44 (0)1752 202331

This book is available from Amazon

as are more recent books of Linda's

I can be contacted

Page Created: 17.5.99

Last Updated: 30.10.05