The term informatics has begun to pervade all areas of healthcare, and nursing is no exception.
Nursing informatics is a nursing specialty for RNs combining nursing, information management and the science of analytics. The combination of nursing science, health records and data, along with information technology, is designed to make use of healthcare data through the entire healthcare system with the goal of improving patient care and outcomes.
Federal regulations requiring the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) spurred the need for workers skilled in nursing and in the use of health informatics. The specialty is an opportunity for nurses with an interest in or knowledge of technology and how it can be applied to patient care.
Work as an informatics nurse does not typically focus on one-on-one patient care, and looks at much larger patient groups.
Nursing informatics specialists may act as the link between a facility’s clinical IT systems and patient care. They may be involved in evaluating a facility’s technology, customizing functionality and setting up and executing training for staff members.
They also may evaluate new software, educate other healthcare workers about technology and how it applies to clinical use. They may help develop policies involving the combination of nursing care and IT systems.
A daily schedule for a nursing informatics specialist could include analyzing data, reviewing compliance with federal laws and standards, meeting with IT experts, administrative duties and researching informatics applications for healthcare workers and patients.
Many informatics nurses work in hospitals or healthcare organizations, but in the current healthcare system with the spread of EHRs, informatics nurses work in nearly every space in which clinical nurses work.
The informatics specialty of nursing has secured a future in the healthcare industry since the implementation of EHRs became mandatory with passage of the Affordable Care Act. In 2013, 78.4% of doctors were using EHRs and about 48% of doctors had EHR systems with some type of advanced functionality, meaning nursing informatics boasts a strong future.
According to a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s 2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, the median salary reported for nurse informatics specialists was $93,000.
The field of nursing informatics is evolving and there is no set standard of prerequisite experience for informatics nurses beyond a background in nursing. Nurses enter this specialty in a variety of ways. Sometimes positions are offered to in-house nurses while other healthcare facilities look for someone who has experience with EHRs.
When it comes to finding qualified people, the informatics field is becoming more sophisticated as universities now offer degree programs specifically tailored to informatics. Many employers prefer candidates with a nursing background because of their understanding of the medical field and the fact it is often easier to train nurses on technical aspects of the job than it is to teach tech-savvy workers the healthcare side of the profession.
Entering the field requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nursing and some experience working with EHRs. As the job becomes more of a specialty position, employers are beginning to look for candidates with post-graduate degrees such as a Master of Science in Health Informatics or a degree in healthcare management. To increase chances of job placement in a nursing informatics position Jacksonville University online offers the MSN Informatics specialization so students can earn an online nursing informatics degree.