A University of Salford academic has won a prestigious award in the United States for contributions to his field.

PROFESSOR Nick Hardiker specialises in the field of nursing informatics, and became the first non-American and the first man to win the coveted Virginia K. Saba award from the American Medical Informatics Association for a ‘significant impact on the care of patients and the discipline of nursing.’

Talking about his achievement, Professor Hardiker said: “I was really excited, kind of bowled over really.

“It’s very humbling because I know of previous recipients of the award and they really are kind of leaders in their field and I haven’t really considered myself as part of that.”

Info on Informatics

He briefly touched on what his important research entails, explaining: “Nursing informatics is essentially the use of information within the context of the nursing practice.

“The output of that process is better use of information in technologies like electronic health records, data analysis and more recently using ‘big data’ to help with predicting disease patterns.”

‘Bridging the communications gap’

Having qualified as a nurse in 1987, he then moved into Computer Science and gained a PhD in 2002, and he explained how nursing informatics could be seen as a combination of those two fields.

He said: “I did nursing for a number of years and was actually looking for a complete change.

“It was when I was doing my undergraduate course in Computer Science that I thought I could actually bring the two together.

“I did my final year project on Nursing Informatics and that’s where I’ve been researching ever since.

“It’s not absolutely essential (to have expertise in both sides), I’ve worked with colleagues who are physicians and colleagues who are computer scientists.

“But I think knowing both worlds is part of the role of somebody who practices nursing informatics.”

In Demand

Professor Hardiker is a busy man, as well as being Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) at Salford, he also teaching Masters Courses in Health Informatics at Swansea University as well as the University of Colorado in Denver, USA.

However, he revealed that his own job provides the means to teach from a distance, saying: “I’ve never visited Denver and yet I’ve been teaching there for a decade.

“I teach on an online program over the web, and Swansea I teach by Skype.

“So I actually use my technology, I practice what I preach, if you like, I use the technology that I’m researching about.”

Team achievement

Professor Hardiker also made sure to acknowledge his colleagues’ role in his award, saying: “While the award has highlighted my own contribution, my colleagues have made equally as significant contributions in their own fields and it’s indicative of the standard of research here.”

And he has high hopes for the future of healthcare and technology in Britain, commenting: “I think what’s absolutely certain is that in spite of the stories you might have read, healthcare is being supported by technology.

“The future is very bright, it’s about how we can make the best use of that technology.”

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