Electronic Health Records

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Nurse informaticists become indispensable in HIMSS14 survey

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Informatics isn’t just for physicians hoping to take the exam for the new clinical subspecialty.  For many years, nurses have been the ones to call when it comes to clinical analytics and quality improvement, and they have become increasingly prominent and increasingly in demand over the past few years.  At the 2014 exhibition this week, HIMSS released the results of the latest Nursing Workforce Survey, which indicates that the nursing informatics field has doubled since 2011, with 70% of respondents noting that informatics makes up a significant part of their employment.

The industry demands for more robust clinical documentation and analytics – such as those associated with Meaningful Use – have increased the need for informaticists across the entire care spectrum,” said Joyce Sensmeier, VP of Informatics for HIMSS. This year’s Survey showed a marked growth across the field of nursing informatics, as well as a deeper understanding and recognition of informatics as a nursing specialty.”

As providers look to implement technology to enable CPOE or improve their clinical documentation and workflow processes, they are seeking qualified data professionals with hands-on clinical experience that will help them understand and relate to reluctant members of staff.  Nurses with an interest in EHRs and computer sciences often transition gradually into the role of informaticist or quality improvement officer before investing in specialized training and additional schooling to help them flourish in the role.

“Nearly two thirds of respondents have a post-graduate degree and 28 percent have a Master’s degree or PhD in informatics which points to the fact that the field is rapidly maturing,” added Sensmeier.  Forty-three percent of more than 1000 nurses responding to the poll have a master’s or PhD in nursing, while 20% have some bedside clinical experience to round out their academic achievements.

This year’s survey also asked some new questions, including gauging job satisfaction.  More than half indicated that they are very satisfied with their current job, and an impressive 81% said they were pleased with their ability to work in the growing informatics field.  In addition to helping put systems in place, nurse informaticists often work to smooth bumpy workflows and drive operational efficiencies to cut costs and increase the quality of care.

“System optimization/utilization was a new option in the 2014 Survey and selected by 39 percent of respondents, suggesting that we may be moving beyond simply implementing systems towards leveraging their value,” Sensmeier said.  The demand to see return on investments in health IT is driving higher salaries for nurse enablers, as well.  Average compensation increased from $83,000 in 2007 to $98,700 in 2011 and even further to more than $100,000 in 2014.  With more and more providers attempting to build health IT infrastructures that directly improve patient care, the need for highly-trained and experienced professionals will likely continue its upward trajectory, indicating a bright future for informaticists in the healthcare industry.

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