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Understanding Nursing Informatics: Benefits, Duties, and Careers


Informatics are becoming increasingly important in all medical fields, and nursing informatics is no exception. For nurses, or even aspiring nurses in today’s medical environment, it is critical to understand the benefits of integrating informatics on the job.

To help you understand nursing informatics, we researched the upcoming careers that nurses-in-training can prepare themselves for. We will also describe the informatics-related duties that all nurses will soon need to be able to perform in this ever-changing environment.

Nursing informatics combines regular nursing duties with information systems. This benefits patient care by making healthcare information readily available to providers, and ensures that private patient information is kept private and accessed only by those with defined roles.

These information systems are necessary for communicating patient medical history as well as insurance data in a quick and timely manner. They also help nurses share data among each other to provide a consistent level of care within a medical care facility.

Second, nursing informatics includes analytical sciences for nursing professionals. This will multiply the healthcare knowledge and capabilities of any given nurse by giving that nurse the expanded knowledge and experience of everyone else in that field.

By providing easy, instinctive access to all of the cumulative medical experience available, nurses will have more confidence and security while making critical patient care decisions.

The Importance of Nursing Informatics

The medical field is constantly changing and adapting to new technologies in its effort to improve patient care. Doctors and technicians in every medical specialty are quickly learning the importance of informatics in their jobs, and nurses will soon have the same requirements.

Improve Patient Care

Nurses are perhaps the most critical players in the process of consistent, quality patient care. Nursing informatics has the potential to help nurses improve this patient care across the board.

Process Improvement

Every healthcare facility had various processes designed to maximize patient care, and nurses are at the forefront of influencing and implementing these processes.

Nursing informatics is a key component of process design, review, improvement, and implementation. Informatics can integrate nursing best practices into the review and improvement stages, as well as help develop new diagnostics and new treatments.

The vast pool of nursing experience is critical for healthcare process improvement, and only through efficient information sharing can it truly be used for the greatest patient benefit.

These improvements will have such varied effects as reducing wait times for clinical care and even surgical procedures. They will also streamline clerical processes that often delay satisfactory patient care.

Policy and Protocol Improvement

Very frequently, healthcare policies (or worse, insurance company policies) are blamed for the problems in effective patient care.

The data and information that is assembled in nursing informatics will be perhaps the single most important factor in effecting policy change for the benefit of patients. Nurses with experience in informatics are best placed to measure the effectiveness of hospital policies and evaluate the potential for improvement.

Nurses are also the front line for gathering data on patient satisfaction, and if this data can be effectively collected and analyzed, it can be used to improve healthcare protocols. Nurses who can use informatics systems to collect and use this data will soon be in great demand.

A nationwide, or even global informatics network will be able to detect protocol changes from the top facilities in the world and analyze their possible local implementation.

Healthcare Training

Nursing informatics will also be at the forefront of standardized, nationwide training programs that will make the quality of healthcare much more consistent all over the country.

Nurses with this skill set will be chosen to manage training programs for hospitals and clinics due to their familiarity with information systems. They will also be poised to provide feedback on training programs and facilitate large-scale improvements.

Such nurses can also be brought in as training consultants, using their informatic training programs to address specific deficiencies in a hospital’s programs and staff, and bringing them up to national standards.

With this data at their fingertips, informatic-trained nurses will be the best choice for on-boarding new trainees and staff.

Limit the Risk of Errors

According to recent research, the most frequent medical errors stem from adverse drug effects [1]. Nursing informatics offers the potential to drastically reduce these errors through increased availability of drug effect information. Increasing patient information, such as drug allergies, will also cut down on this kind of error.

Many other types of medical risks can be mitigated through the use of nursing informatics. These include misdiagnoses from cancer-related issues, neurological issues, cardiac-related issues, and urological related issues. It can also reduce complications during and after surgery.
Reduce Healthcare Costs

Another study claims that in 2008, medical errors cost the United States $19.5 billion [2]. The reduction in medical errors promised by the widespread implementation of informatics should reduce the financial burden of these errors.

Better access to information provides nurses with life-saving alerts that can prevent medical errors. Nursing informatics can also automate certain tasks, which will reduce human error, and improve nurse productivity, which will reduce overall costs associated with health care.

Requirements for Nursing Informatics

Becoming a nurse informaticist is a practical way to get into a rapidly-expanding field of medicine without pursuing a doctoral degree beforehand.

But don’t take this step lightly—read below to find out the requirements for nursing informatics.

BSN or Advanced Practice Degree

Like other types of nursing, a candidate can enter the field of nursing informatics with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

However, there are other Bachelor’s Degrees that bring value to the informatics disciplines. Healthcare Informatics, Healthcare Information Systems, and other data-handling degrees are highly sought-after as well.

Of course, there are also higher degrees that can make a candidate much more competitive in the nursing informatics fields. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree will give nurses a competitive edge, especially for those who want to pursue managerial roles in their medical communities.

Licenses and Certifications

At a minimum, a nursing informatics specialist should have a Registered Nurse license. Beyond that, there are several certifications that might be beneficial, such as the ANCC Informatics Nursing Certification.

Interest in Technology

Nursing informatics is not a career for the technologically-challenged. Informatics deals with vast amounts of data processing and analysis, and this requires familiarity with many types of information systems.

Informatics is also a branch of science that is integrating cutting-edge technologies. Nursing informatics in particular will incorporate the very latest advancements in imaging, diagnostic, and clinical equipment.

Strong Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills have proven to be a strong asset in patient care, especially in the nursing fields [3]. Some facilities are training nursing students in patient simulators specifically for the purpose of evaluating critical thinking skills and helping students improve them.

Desire to Manage Projects

Nursing informaticists are uniquely poised for roles in project management. The data analysis that is provided by nursing informatics is extremely helpful for healthcare projects that can improve clinical care and hospital efficiency.

Nurses that have a stronger desire for project management and are willing to set aside patient care duties for a period will find many opportunities in nursing informatics.

Nursing Informatics FAQ

What Do Nurse Informatics Do?

A career in nursing informatics will mostly focus on the integration of data management and information systems into everyday patient care. Nursing informaticists will also focus on streamlining communications within any given healthcare facility and even across the wider healthcare industry.

What Are Examples of Nursing Informatics?

There are several specific applications of nursing informatics. These include:

  • Management of electronic medical records (EMR)
  • Implementation of computerized provider order entry
  • Use of monitoring devices to record data in EMR
  • Development of computer-generated nursing care plans
  • Including nursing documentation to streamline automatic billing procedures
  • Comprehensive charting that includes scheduling and reminders

How Much Do Informatics Nurses Make?

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically address the field of nursing informatics, it has provided estimates for comparable nursing fields. According to their data, a nursing informatics specialist could expect to make $58,600 per year.

Is Nursing Informatics In Demand?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job market for RNs will increase by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024. This is generally in pace with demand in the larger nursing field [4].

Conclusion

Nursing Informatics is a valuable skill set for any current nurses working in the healthcare industry, or for future nurses to prepare to spearhead a new era in healthcare.

Such nurses will find their skills in high demand, and will be able to attract higher salaries than their contemporaries who are not as familiar with informatics. Many hospital job openings will be listing informatics as a requirement.

For students or practitioners with an interest in technology and strong critical thinking skills, informatics is an exciting new field to jump into. It’s also the field to join for nurses with leadership and management potential who want to get into project management.

These disciplines are a great choice for nursing students and practicing nurses to become more marketable employees for the medical industry in the 21st century.

References

1. Carver N, Hipskind JE. Medical error. StatPearls e-Book: StatPearls Publishing; 2017.

2. Andel C, Davidow SL, Hollander M, Moreno DA. The economics of health care quality and medical errors. J Health Care Finance. 2012 Fall;39(1):39-50. PMID: 23155743.

3. Cholewka PA, Mohr B. Enhancing nursing informatics competencies and critical thinking skills using wireless clinical simulation laboratories. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2009;146:561-3. PMID: 19592905.

4. Burning Glass, 2014, The Labor Market in Health Informatics, 2014, www.burning-glass.com.

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