Behind the front lines at many healthcare organizations you will find nurses working to improve accuracy, eliminate unnecessary work, and provide meaningful data analysis, in order to help their frontline colleagues enhance the quality of patient care. These nurses specialize in informatics, a nursing career that focuses on finding ways to improve information management and communications in nursing.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing informatics as “a specialty that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice."
Informatics nurses facilitate the integration of data, information, and knowledge to support patients, nurses, and other providers in their decision-making in all roles and settings. This support is accomplished through the use of information structures, information processes, and information technology.
Because healthcare providers communicate with each other primarily through the notes they write in a patient’s chart, nurse informaticists seek to continually improve the speed, timeliness, and accuracy of patient charting. And when practitioners have access to more up-to-date, complete patient notes, they can make better decisions about a patient’s care.
Theses nurses work with the IT team to find ways to simplify and enhance documentation using advanced computer and information technologies. Instead of spending each shift handwriting notes into every patient’s chart, nursing informatics makes it possible to record notes sooner and faster using computers, handheld devices, voice recognition, and other tools. The goal of informatics is to design and implement systems that improve documentation accuracy, eliminate unnecessary work, and enable analysis of clinical data.
The systems should not just be effective, but also user-friendly. Nurses may not be inclined to use a system that is too complicated, cumbersome, or takes time away from their first priority, which is patient care. An important element of the nurse informaticist's job is to ensure that new systems integrate seamlessly with existing hospital systems and the nursing workflow.
Nurse informaticists have trained specifically for the field. Rather than being drafted into service because they know a little about technology, many nurses are graduating with advanced degrees focused on informatics, or they obtain certifications specifically for the field. Nurse informaticists also play an important role in helping hospitals achieve Meaningful Use requirements for EHR implementation.
The need for informatics nurses is on the rise, according to Nurse.com. Demand for informatics nurses is outpacing supply, especially as electronic health records become the standard and hospitals move to optimize their use.
Have you considered a career in nursing informatics? What about the specialty is attractive to you? For more information on the field of nursing informatics, check out the American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) and visit https://www.ania.org/.