Nursing informatics (NI), as defined by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), is a “specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice.” Nursing informaticists combine nursing knowledge with information technologies to develop more efficient processes, advance healthcare and provide exceptional patient care.
“Nurses have always been the ‘communication hub’ and coordinator of care for patients in every setting,” said Charlotte Weaver, RN, Ph.D., MSPH, FHIMSS, FAAN, author of Nursing and Informatics for the 21st Century: An International Look at Practice, Education and EHR Trends, Second Edition, and co-chair of the Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI). “Increasingly, as technology permeates every aspect of our daily lives, using technology in health, wellness, prevention and maintenance will be a core skill needed in every healthcare profession.”
Weaver highlighted that employers seek nurses who have core informatics skills and competencies. She stated that there are a variety of jobs and education levels for nurses who are currently in NI.
Jobs for nursing informaticists range from nurses in faculty positions in universities who teach and do research on informatics, to nurses practicing in many different healthcare settings who implement the information systems for healthcare organizations. Other nursing informaticists work in executive-level healthcare positions that require strategic planning, execution of strategic initiatives, and guidance and support to the clinical operational leaders. Additionally, there are nursing informaticists who work in information technology companies. According to Weaver, these nurses “design, test, and implement technology solutions into healthcare organizations and are important partners to nurse leaders.”
Nursing informaticists also help advance healthcare by using informatics in the discovery and management of new scientific knowledge relating to healthcare. According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), this specialization of NI is called clinical research informatics and includes management of information related to clinical trials and secondary research. This research is used in healthcare systems to help improve the nursing practice with advanced technology and patient care.
NI also focuses on patient safety and education, so that patients are better equipped to manage their healthcare. “Nursing informaticists play a vital role in empowering patients to be active participants in their care and members of the team by teaching and supporting individuals to use mobile technologies, monitoring devices, consumer portals and Personal Health Record tools to collect and communicate with their care team members,” said Weaver.
According to Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida, to begin work as a nursing informaticist, nurses typically need a bachelor’s degree in nursing and experience working with electronic healthcare records.
To find out more about nursing informatics, visit the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).