Nursing informatics is a career that focuses on finding ways to improve information management and communications in nursing to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the quality of patient care.
The American Nurses Association defines nursing informatics as “a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice. Nursing informatics facilitates the integration of data, information and knowledge to support patients, nurses and other providers in their decision-making in all roles and settings. This support is accomplished through the use of information structures, information processes, and information technology.” (ANA Scope and Standards of Nursing Informatics Practice, 2001, pg vii.)
Documentation is a primary emphasis in nursing informatics, because quality care depends on effective communication among healthcare providers. Since healthcare providers communicate primarily through the notes they write in a patient’s chart, nurse informaticists seek to continually improve the speed, timeliness and accuracy of patient charting. When health workers have access to more up-to-date, complete patient notes, they can make better decisions about a patient’s care.
Nursing informatics looks for ways to simplify and enhance documentation using advanced computer and information technologies. Instead of spending each shift handwriting notes into every patient’s chart, nursing informatics makes it possible to record notes sooner and faster using computers, handheld devices, voice recognition and other tools. The goal of nurse informaticists is to design and implement systems that improve documentation accuracy, eliminate unnecessary work, enhance accuracy and enable analysis of clinical data.
People who work in nursing informatics aim to develop systems that are both effective and user-friendly. Nurses may not be inclined to use a system that is too complicated, cumbersome, or takes time away from their first priority, which is patient care. Nursing informaticists also must make sure new systems integrate seamlessly with existing hospital systems and the routine workflow of the nursing process.
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Nurse informaticists work in hospitals, other healthcare facilities, universities, consulting firms, or corporations that develop and market healthcare information systems. Their titles include clinical analyst, informatics nurse specialist, director of clinical informatics, or clinical informatics coordinator.
Few nurse informaticists perform any patient care duties. Most focus on developing, improving, testing or training nurses to use new systems. Recognizing the potential of nurse informatics to improve quality care and reduce costs, some hospitals and health systems are creating staff roles for nurse informaticists.
The average salary for a nurse informaticist in 2007 was $83,675. The median salary was $79,000.
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Most nurse informaticists begin their careers as registered nurses. It is important for nurse informaticists to understand the nursing process, so they can design systems that will solve problems with patient care.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing, many nurse informaticists obtain a master’s degree in nursing or a computer science or information science related field.
This career involves extensive project management, critical thinking and creativity. Nurse informaticists must be able to work effectively with many different kinds of people. They must be skilled in resolving conflicting demands to develop systems that meet everyone’s needs.
Advanced training and Board Certification in Nursing Informatics can be obtained from the American Nurses’ Association Credentialing Center. You can also become a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information Management Systems (CPHIMS) or a Certified Professional in Health Information Technology (CPHIT).
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Last updated: April 24, 2014
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