“If the U.S. healthcare system moves toward wider adoption of advanced information technology systems to control health care costs, reduce medical errors and improve patient care, it will need at least 40,000 additional health IT professionals – or almost 40 percent more than U.S. hospitals now are estimated to employ.”
-- William Hersh, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics April 17, 2008
The number of people in the health informatics field is expected to increase drastically over the next several years. “What is this interesting field all about” you may be asking. Imagine a nurse or health care professional combined with a technology professional. Although in the past these two fields would be an odd pair to combine, today this is fairly commonplace in a growing and high-demand career field called “healthcare” or “nursing informatics."
Definition of Nursing Informatics
According to the International Medical Informatics Association, “Nursing informatics is the integration of nursing, its information, and information management with information processing and communication technology, to support the health of people world wide.”
The Nursing Process
The nursing process has four main steps: planning, implementation, evaluation, and assessment. However, because information management is integrated into the nursing process and practice, some nursing communities identify a fifth step in the nursing process: documentation. Documentation and patient-centered care are the core components of the nursing process. Automated documentation is vitally important, not just for nursing, but for all patient care. Up-to-date, accurate information at each step of the nursing process is the key to safe, high quality patient-centered care.
The successful implementation of information systems in nursing and healthcare requires several factors. First, it is necessary to have well designed systems that support the nursing process within the culture of an organization. The second requirement is having the acceptance and integration of information systems into the regular workflow of the nursing process and patient care. Finally, it is important to have resources that can support the previously mentioned factors. One of the most effective and valuable resources a healthcare organization can add is a nursing informaticist.
Nursing InformaticistsNursing Informaticists are expert clinicians with extensive clinical practice background. These individuals have experience in utilizing and implementing the nursing process. Another aspect of being a nursing or healthcare informaticist is being an expert nursing clinician in utilizing the nursing process.
Why these jobs are Important to healthcare?
Nursing Informaticists bring a great deal of value to patients and the healthcare system. Ways they provide value include:
- Supporting nursing work processes using technology
- Increasing the accuracy and completeness of nursing documentation
- Improving the nurse’s workflow
- Automating the collection and reuse of nursing data
- Facilitating analysis of clinical data
- Providing nursing content to standardized languages
- Vendors, including sales, software development, implementation, and education to train clients/users.
- Hospital Systems, including staff nurse, analyst (support/implement systems), directors/managers of nursing informatics, project managers, and CIO (Chief Information Officer).
- Consultant, including software implementation, software/system solution selection, process improvement, and project management
- Long-term care
- Home care
HIMSS and RHIO
To provide some background on the field of healthcare/nursing informatics, there are some governing bodies for this field. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is the main governing body for healthcare and nursing informatics professionals. This group, formed in 2004, has the following four goals: NI awareness, education, resources (including websites), and RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization).
RHIOs are also known as Community Health Information Networks (CHINs). These are the networks that connect physicians, hospitals, laboratories, radiology centers and insurance companies.They all share and transmit patient information electronically through a secure system. Those organizations that are a part of RHIOs have a business interest in improving the quality of healthcare being administered.
- Nursing Informatics Taskforce – HIMSS
- Midwest Alliance for Nursing Informatics – now merged with HIMSS
- Capitol Area Roundtable on Informatics in Nursing
- American Nursing Informatics Association
- Nursing Informatics Working Group of AMIA
- British Computer Society Nursing Specialist Group
- The Special Interest Group of the International Medical Informatics Association
Day in the Life of a Healthcare / Nursing informatics career
Below are examples of individuals who work in the field and their experiences and viewpoints about the field.
- Susan Rogers - Vice President of Nursing Informatics
- Jane Meyers - Project Manager, Clinical Systems Analyst
- Hirut Girma- Project Manager, Nursing/Health Informatics
Other Health / Nursing Informatics Categories
To learn more about Health / Nursing Informatics careers, degrees, schools, and salaries, visit the following links/pages.