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How Nursing Informatics Can Improve Healthcare

Hospital Nurse With Digital Tablet Talks To Senior Patient

Are you exploring a nursing informatics certificate or want to advance your nursing career with a Master of Science in Nursing? Discover how the rapidly growing specialty of nursing informatics is changing healthcare for the better.

If you are looking for a career in healthcare where you can contribute to meaningful and positive change and also taking advantage of the latest advancements in technology, a focus in nursing informatics may be a great career path for you. While the field of nursing informatics has many facets, at its core, nursing informatics focuses on empowering medical practitioners and improving the healthcare patient experience.

Nursing informatics is one of the fastest-growing areas of healthcare today. With an eye towards maximizing efficiencies, improving communication, increasing access to timely and accurate data, and lowering overall costs, healthcare professionals skilled in nursing informatics are in high demand. It’s no surprise that nursing informatics is one of the top 10 highest paid nursing professions in the United States.

What is the purpose of nursing informatics?

Nursing informatics bridges the divide between the clinical and information technology sides of healthcare. Defined by the American Nurses Association (ANA):

“Nursing informatics (NI) is the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice.”

While nursing informatics may sound challenging, the rewards of the career are substantial. The purpose of nursing informatics is to make healthcare easier, aid in overall patient care, and ultimately improve the lives of everyone in the community by lowering the cost of healthcare. In this article, we will cover the primary goals of nursing informatics, including:

  • Improved Processes & Workflows
  • Streamlined Documentation & Communication
  • Lowered Healthcare Costs

Improved Processes & Workflows

Processes and workflows in the healthcare industry can develop organically over time, or they can be designed for consistency, accuracy, efficiency, and alignment. As a nurse informaticist, you will use all available data to identify when, where, why, and how processes and workflows can improve. Once developed, nurse Informaticists then roll out the updates across the organization and train the nurses and staff on best practices.

In the past, healthcare technology departments operated as an independent silo separated from the needs of the doctors, nurses, and patients. In the modern healthcare organization, Nurse Informaticists collaborate with healthcare practitioners, hospital administrators, and the hospital’s IT department to enhance patient health management.

Nurse Informaticists play a crucial role in evaluating healthcare data and identifying areas of opportunity within the clinical settings for improvement. Their primary focus is to look for ways to reduce the strain on nursing and management teams while also increasing patient care and satisfaction.

In nurse informatics, you’ll leverage the latest technology to help create workflow efficiencies, including data-driven tools, apps, and systems. You’ll continually analyze the data and put the findings back into the workflow allowing the staff leads to better manage their teams and resources. As new systems and processes go live, nurse informaticists help train the clinical staff and educate the team on how to take advantage of the features and functionality of the new tools.

The impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system has intensified the need for excellence in resource management and puts a spotlight on the critical role of nurse informatics. There has never been a greater need for nursing leadership skilled in data collection, analysis, and interpretation to lessen the strain on nurses and hospital staff.

Streamlined Documentation & Communication

While many healthcare organizations are faced with a flood of data, streamlining the information and making it easily accessible can be challenging. One of the primary roles of Nurse Informaticists is to identify, test, and implement digital management systems as well as to improve existing systems.

By taking advantage of data-sharing technology, documentation can be standardized and redundant documents can be eliminated, enhancing interdepartmental and cross-organizational communication. Modern integrated databases also provide quick and easy access to a wide range of patient information, including medical history, treatment plans, lab and test results, imaging, and team notes. This allows doctors, nurses, and hospital staff to make more accurate and informed decisions faster—delivering a higher level of patient-centered care.

A few of the standard healthcare technologies used in nurse informatics to improve the documentation and communication process include the following:

Electronic Health Records (EHR)
EHRs are real-time, digital patient records that can be instantly and securely shared across different healthcare settings. Because EHR documentation is standardized, communication is seamless between the various healthcare providers and organizations. EHRs help healthcare providers save time with easier chart management and enable them to track all aspects of a patient’s care. EHRs also allow for streamlined payment systems and transactions with insurance companies and government agencies.

Computer Provider Order Entry (CPOE)
CPOE is the process of a healthcare practitioner entering and sending medical treatment instructions electronically over a secure computer network. CPOE is used to digitally communicate patient care instructions to medical staff or departments such as the pharmacy or laboratory responsible for fulfilling the request. Offering many advantages over hand-written or transcribed instructions, CPOE reduces the time required to send and complete orders, increases the accuracy of the communication, and enhances patient safety through reminders and alerts to the physicians.

Lowered Healthcare Costs

The rising cost of healthcare is a serious challenge Americans face across the country. One of the primary ways healthcare organizations are combating escalating costs is through improved efficiencies gained by data analytics and the cost-saving, patient-focused recommendations of nurse Informaticists.

As we’ve covered, nurse informaticists use data-informed insights to improve almost every aspect of patient-centered care. With streamlined processes, teams work more efficiently with less stress on the staff. Clear communication and consistent documentation speeds patient care and reduces the chance of costly medical errors. And with the use of integrated healthcare technology systems, many tedious administrative tasks are automated, improving productivity and lowering costs.

Nurse Informaticists don’t just work behind the scenes. They help change how patients receive healthcare. Advancements in healthcare data and communication, paired with remote health devices, allow healthcare professionals to shift care from the hospital to the patient’s home with remote patient care. This helps significantly lower healthcare costs as well as minimizes potential risk for patients during COVID-19.

The efficient and effective use of data is the lifeblood of any healthcare organization and the key to lowering healthcare costs. Nurse informaticists compile, process, and make sense of real-time information and develop innovative ways to reduce cost, improve workflows, and enhance patient care.