- A growing body of evidence points to the benefits of nursing informatics to clinical decision-making, but a recent study of these healthcare professionals indicates they face challenges as a result of a lack of administrative support, resources, and planning.
According to the HIMSS 2017 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, the largest barriers to success on the job reported were administrative support (21%), staffing resources (13%), organization strategy planning (12%), and financial resources (11%). Compared to 2014 results, administrative support grew by four percentage points by 2017 whereas staffing resources declined by one percent as did financial resources. Organizational strategic planning held firm.
On the flip side, the common barriers to success as a nursing informaticist included technology use (1%), MACRA regulations (3%), software architecture (5%), and interoperability (7%). All of these responses, except for MACRA regulations, were lower compared to 2014 results..
“The data suggests that nurse informaticists may need to overcome operational and organizational challenges rather than technological ones in order to be most successful in their roles,” the report states.
Informatics can provide strong clinical applications such as leveraging big data for population health initiatives and using mHealth generated data to improve chronic disease management. These results indicate that the field of informatics at the nursing level currently faces some roadblocks within healthcare operations.
Interestingly enough, more nursing informaticists increased their clinical experience, and more experienced clinical workers moved into the informatics field.
“This year’s results showed that the number of years of bedside clinical experience respondents had before becoming a nurse informaticist increased; 17 percent of respondents had between one and five years of clinical experience compared to 20 percent in 2014,” write the authors of the report.
“Those with more than 11 years of clinical experience increased from 41 percent to 59 percent,” they continue. “This may indicate that more clinical experience may be required to become an informaticist or that experienced clinicians are moving into informatics roles.”
Other survey results reflect the interesting development of nursing informatics based on responses that consider training, departmental coordination, and informational sources.
Nursing informaticists received most of their actual informatics training from on-the-job experience according to the survey. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they gained their training on-the-job while 31 percent trained through a Master’s or doctoral course.
Survey results indicated that most nursing informaticists do not report to a nursing department. Of the survey respondents, 53 percent reported to an IT department while only 30 percent actually reported to an organization’s nursing department.
Seventy percent of respondents said peer-to-peer networking and websites were the main methods. Eighty-seven percent of nursing informaticists who responded to the survey also said they rely on digital sources such as digital journals to assist in day-to-day activities.
Initiatives to further legitimize the field of nursing informatics include the promotion of certifications and academic support.
The American Health Information Management Association created a new (AHIMA) certification option as an effort for big data professionals to showcase their capabilities. Certified nursing informaticists made up 47 percent of the survey respondents.
Academic consortiums across the country received $10 million in funding last December to advance the use of big data and informatics for population and public health purposes.
The researchers concluded that the field of nursing informatics as a whole is growing through more educated professionals in both clinical and data expertise and that growth could provide a solution to administrative and organizational challenges.