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Nursing Informatics: Insights Into a Budding Field

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What is Nursing Informatics?

The Foundations of Nursing Informatics

The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing informatics as “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.”

The goal of nursing informatics is to improve overall patient care practices through the optimization of information and communication, elevating the quality and consistency of healthcare in a given community.

Nursing informatics bridges several clinical and technical fields, combining the following specialty areas: Nursing practices, Computer Science, Information Management, and Communication Technologies.

The combination of these different fields serves to improve the quality of medical systems, streamline communication and improve overall patient care.

The Core Areas of Nursing Informatics

Applying research methodologies

Implement knowledge and findings into practice in the healthcare setting.

Computer technologies

Improve the presentation, speed, accuracy and retrieval of patient charting.

Evolving systems

Educate fellow healthcare nurses and physicians on new systems and implement processes for best practices of high quality patient care.

Workflow and communication

Identify and address workflow and communication needs across healthcare venues and data infrastructure.

Innovation

Lead the innovation, management and continuous development of new communication and information technology.

Data

Analyze data to organize, interpret and implement data outcomes. Facilitate that data to support nurses and other providers in their patient care decision making.

Policy

Healthcare policy and advocacy to advance public health.

Why is Nursing Informatics Important in Today’s World?

Now, more than ever, nursing informatics specialists are essential in maintaining and improving health care technology, workflows, and best practices for the management and communication of information.

A response to the widespread and harrowing impacts of COVID-19, nursing informatics has emerged as a platform for the future of nursing leadership, influencing best practices from the bedside to the boardroom.

The advent of nursing informatics aims to allow healthcare professionals to process and retrieve relevant documents – medical histories, imaging, and team notes – more efficiently. At the same time, the field hopes to enable healthcare professionals to make more informed decisions and improve patient outcomes by aiding the consistency of patient-centered care.

To do so, nursing informatics relies on the knowledge of nurses themselves. The field is built on the shoulders of action-oriented nurses who have the ability to manage and synthesize data. Having learned through decades of hands-on experience, these men and women are the individuals best suited to remodel healthcare for today’s unique needs and circumstances.

The challenges being addressed on the frontlines of nursing leadership have never been so great. Fresh leaders are needed to join the field as it ushers healthcare into a new phase of rapid evolution. The next generation of nurses must learn from the insights and wisdom of retiring nurses to avoid repeating mistakes, but instead, continue to elevate the field through innovation and action.

The Goals of Nursing Informatics

The advent of nursing informatics and its related technologies are the following:

  1. Reduce medical errors
  2. Mitigate patient care delays
  3. Lessen healthcare costs

The Benefits of Nursing Informatics

When a healthcare community embraces nursing informatics, not only does patient care improve, but so does the management of healthcare teams by simplifying processes. Improved accuracy and efficiency also help to drive lower healthcare costs in our healthcare system.

The impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system has created a platform and need for nursing leadership. Specifically, there is an immediate need for action oriented nursing leadership with the ability to manage and synthesize data for action. This is especially true for nursing leadership on the frontline levels where there is currently a strain on nursing resources.

Examples of nursing informatics technologies

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Documentation is an area of focus to ensure seamless communication between multiple healthcare providers. The goal is to increase speed and accuracy of charting so healthcare providers have better access to make care decisions and can easily and quickly track the status of a patient’s progress.

By creating centralized documentation, time is saved thanks to easier chart management and access to information. This, in turn, helps with cost efficiencies as well.

Efficiencies include streamlined payment systems and transactions with insurance companies and government agencies.

Computer Provider Order Entry (CPOE)

CPOE offers a digitized process of providers entering and sending treatment instructions as an alternative to paper, fax and telephone correspondence. This increases the speed and ensures accuracy for patients. It also eases communication among multiple healthcare providers.

There is also increased patient safety in using these types of systems as they generate reminders and alerts to physicians.

Education Requirements for a Career in Nursing Informatics

The first step in working towards a career in nursing informatics is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to get a fundamental knowledge of nursing practices.

After earning your initial degree, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to be licensed in your state as a registered nurse. It is then recommended to pursue a master’s degree which is most commonly a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Online MSN in Leadership, Analytics and Innovation From University of Michigan

If you are interested in pursuing a career in nursing informatics, consider a MSN in Leadership, Analytics and Innovation from University of Michigan.

The program focuses on creating sustainable impact in healthcare at the team, system and national policy levels.

Part of University of Michigan’s School of Nursing, ranked 9th in the nation by US News & World Report, UM’s MSN-LAI Prides itself on its strong research focus. This includes a strong history of research in the following areas: health systems, implementation science, health IT, interdisciplinary communication, safe work practices, simulation and population health.

What makes a strong MSN-LAI Candidate

The most desirable applicants have a combination of industry-related qualities and skills:

  • Action oriented
  • Innovative
  • Focused on quality and safety
  • Strong critical thinking and analytical skills
  • Education and experience working within databases and technology systems
  • Knowledge of project management principles
  • Strong interprofessional team leadership

What are Career Opportunities in Nursing Informatics?

Nursing informatics is a rapidly growing field within the healthcare industry, especially as a new, unanticipated wave of retirements take hold due to COVID-19.

Health services managers (including nurse managers) will grow 18% from 2018-2028, faster than RNs and the overall job market.

Estimated annual wages for a master’s educated health services manager are nurse manager ranges between $80,000 and $93,000 (as compared to $72,000 for RNs).

According to the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey:

  • 68% of respondents work for a hospital or multi-facility health system.
  • 66% of respondents reported having education beyond a bachelor’s degree (Master’s or Doctoral degree)
  • 63% stated they earn a base annual salary between $61,000 - $115,000

The top 4 job responsibilities for nurse informaticists include:

  1. Systems Implementation
  2. System Optimization/Utilization
  3. Systems Development
  4. Quality Initiatives/Reporting

Nurse Informatics can lead to work in a variety of industries including healthcare, business, policy making and academia.

  • Informatics Leaders
  • Specialists
  • Project Directors
  • Consultants
  • Educators
  • Researchers
  • Policy Developers
  • Chief Nursing Officers
  • Chief Information Officers

If you think you might be interested in applying to University of Michigan’s Online MSN in Leadership, Analytics and Innovation, learn more about the application process here, or contact an Enrollment Advisor for next steps by emailing onlinenursing@umich.edu or calling (734) 389-7175.