Experts discuss results of 2014 HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey

Nursing informatics adds value as healthcare is transforming

By Richard Pizzi
03:50 PM
Over the past decade, nursing informaticists have moved from a supporting role at hospitals to one that is mission-critical, said three of the profession’s leaders on Sunday at HIMSS14.
The state of the nursing informatics workforce was the primary topic of discussion at the opening panel of the Nursing Informatics Symposium here, as nursing informaticists discussed the results of the fourth edition of the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey and the future of the profession.
“There is an expanding universe of nursing informatics practice,” said Ruth Schleyer, chief nursing informatics officer at Providence Health & Services, a Renton, Wash.-based health system. She said the challenges confronting the profession – including new delivery models for communities, an increasing emphasis on patient engagement and genomics-driven care – would offer more career opportunities for CNIO aspirants.
The 2014 workforce survey indicated that there are three particular areas in which nurse informaticists can add value, Schleyer said. They include implementing IT systems; the optimization of HIT systems, and providing and defining context for the patient care team. “The CNIO supports the use of the EHR as a clinical tool,” she said. “The value of the CNIO is driven by operations, not by IT.”
The 2014 survey revealed that 58 percent of nurse informaticists currently work in hospitals, a number that should drop in coming years as the healthcare enterprise transforms, said Gail E. Latimer, vice president and chief nurse officer at Siemens Healthcare. “We must get beyond the walls of the hospital,” she said. “We’re moving from acute care to coordination of care, and from large IT hardware to cloud technology and BYOD. There are ongoing debates about the role of nursing informaticists in the C-suite, and what skills are needed for the job. We’ve moved from an environment where nurse executives must be aware of IT to requiring that they be knowledgeable of and engaged with IT.”
Currently, 30 percent of healthcare organizations support a CNIO position and the number will grow, said Betsy Weiner, senior associate dean for informatics at Vanderbilt University. Yet nursing leaders must continue promoting the importance of informatics nurses so that they are valued in healthcare teams.
“As we shift to more inter-professional education in both IT and healthcare, we must make sure that we do not lose nursing content in our zeal to be team players,” Weiner said.