Why is informatics the top new career?

Patient care with IT skills turns out to be a great combination
By Nicole Lewis
12:00 AM
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As the nation's healthcare system increasingly relies on electronic data to improve the quality of care, the role of the informaticist, a person that uses technology tools to support the management of information within an organization, is becoming an increasingly critical vocation at healthcare delivery organizations.
By all accounts, the job of informaticist comes with greater responsibility today than a decade ago, in part due to progress towards the implementation of electronic health records and other IT projects such as ICD-10 that require frontline healthcare workers with IT skills to participate in a growing number of IT projects.
According to Joyce Sensmeier vice president, informatics at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, informatics is a top career in healthcare because those who master the art of combining patient care with health IT skills are in a better position to demand more pay, expand their growth potential and become an integral part of a growing dynamic health organization.
"Clinicians with informatics skills are perfectly poised to expand their role at healthcare organizations that have already adopted electronic health records and are now getting ready to reap the rewards by analyzing the data from those systems," Sensmeier said. "Nurse informaticists in particular are well positioned to take on executive level roles because they understand how the healthcare organization works and because they have an understanding of the necessary requirements for healthcare analytics." While medical informatics, pharmacy informatics and nutrition informatics are all growing areas of job growth, Sensmeier said nursing informatics is by far the fastest growing career in health informatics, and HIMSS research over the years has reflected the changing role of the nurse informaticist in healthcare.
For example, in 2011 a study of 660 nurse informaticists showed how integral respondents were in health IT project development. In 2011, systems implementation was listed as the primary job responsibility by 57 percent of respondents, versus 45 percent in 2007. Systems development followed at 53 percent, compared to 41 percent in 2007.
Respondents surveyed in 2011 also identified the types of systems they were helping to develop, with 77 percent naming clinical documentation, and 62 percent electronic health record. Also listed were computerized physician order entry at 60 percent, and clinical information systems at 58 percent.
Another attraction to the profession is that nurses, physicians and pharmacist informaticists have used health information technology to do exactly what healthcare workers have always wanted to do  -  improve patient care. In a 2013 HIMSS survey of 507 informaticists in the healthcare field, 80 percent of respondents said the information provided through the HIT tools available at their organization helped clinicians process data and improved access to information needed to provide safe patient care.