Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

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Nurse Informaticists Have “Direct Positive Impact” on Patient Care

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Nurse informaticists are integral to the data analytics and health IT implementation strategies of healthcare organizations, says the 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey released at HIMSS15 this week, and they produce a measurably positive effect on the quality of patient care and provider workflows.

nurse informaticists and clinical systems optimization

The survey, building off research started in 2009 about the importance of nurse informaticists in the quickly changing digital health landscape, shows that the profession is critical for healthcare organizations seeking to leverage EHR technology and other health IT systems for big data analytics and improved care quality.

Informatics professionals with a nursing background combine the best of both worlds: deep expertise in clinical care helps nurse informaticists understand the needs and stresses of the clinical workflow, while their education and background with information technology systems and data analytics helps them sculpt health IT infrastructure into a meaningful and helpful tool.

Sixty percent of the 576 respondents to the HIMSS15 survey believe that these skills have a high degree of positive impact on the quality patient care, while more than three-quarters of participants also praised nurse informaticists for their ability to stream workflows and user acceptance of health IT systems while simultaneously ensuring patient safety.

“The 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey showcases the positive influence informatics nurses are having on improved quality and efficiency of patient care,” said Joyce Sensmeier, Vice President of Informatics for HIMSS. “We are going to continue to see the role and use of technology expand in healthcare and the demand for nurses with informatics training will grow in parallel.”

Notable results from this year’s survey include:

• Nearly a quarter of healthcare organizations have had nurse informaticists on staff since before the year 2000.  During that time, close to two-thirds of organizations have elevated informaticists to leadership roles, including Chief Nursing Information Officers.  The longer a nurse informaticist has been employed at an organization, the greater his or her impact on patient care will be, respondents agreed.

• Seventy percent of nurse informaticists have helped organizations improve their medical device integration programs, a critical effort to improve patient safety and ensure data integrity in the clinical chart.  Half of respondents said that their informaticists would also play a role in the adoption of smart devices to automate certain care processes.

• Three-quarters of respondents believe that nurse informaticists have a high degree of impact on clinical systems design, implementation, and optimization.  Informaticists are also deeply engaged in clinical analytics and other forms of data analysis.  Survey participants were measurably more likely to thank nurse informaticists for their contributions in health IT adoption in 2015 compared to 2009, possibly due to the increased complexity of technology in the provider setting.

• More than two-thirds of respondents believe that nurse informaticists involved in the health IT implementation process improve the accuracy and completeness of clinical documentation, a key competency for healthcare organizations preparing for ICD-10.

• A similar number of participants believe nurse informaticists can help to reduce alarm fatigue and prevent potential patient safety errors by streamlining EHR alerts and their associated workflows.  Providers who have employed informaticists for a longer period of time are more likely to believe that the role has a significant impact on patient safety and the reduction of near-miss adverse events.

• Nurse informaticists are highly sought after for the implementation of emerging technologies such as predictive analytics, data warehousing, remote patient monitoring, patient engagement and personalized healthcare, and the use of smart devices.

As healthcare organizations implement more and more technologies that must interoperate while simplifying the clinical care process, nurse informaticists will continue to play a crucial role in the optimization of new technologies, Sensmeier adds. “As clinicians further focus on transforming information into knowledge, technology will be a fundamental enabler of future care delivery models and nursing informatics leaders will be essential to this transformation.”

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