Nurse Informaticists Are Key Players In Healthcare IT
With the increased adoption of healthcare information technology (IT), nursing informatics – a hybrid career combining nursing and healthcare IT skills – is growing in importance and impact, suggests the 2011 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey.
Increases in salary and scope of responsibilities compared to the previous survey three years ago suggest nurse informaticists are playing an increasingly key role in the implementation of healthcare IT.
Nurse informaticists serve as bilingual translators between healthcare clinicians – such as doctors, nurses and other providers – and healthcare IT.
Asked to identify the top barriers to success in their jobs, almost one-third (30 percent) named the lack of integration and interoperability between healthcare IT systems, and 26 percent said lack of financial resources. That response has shifted from three years ago, when lack of financial resources took the number one spot.
Conducted in 2004, 2007 and now in 2011, the survey tracks changes in the burgeoning career first officially identified by the American Nurses Association in 1992.
The average salary in the 2011 survey was reported to be $98,703, an increase of 17 percent from 2007, and 42 percent from 2004. Informatics nurses are also taking on increasing responsibility: systems implementation was listed as the primary job responsibility by 57 percent of respondents, vs. 45 percent in 2007. Systems development followed at 53 percent, compared to 41 percent three years ago.
“The increase in salary demonstrates the industry’s recognition of the importance of nursing informatics as a growing and valued profession,” said Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, vice president of Informatics for HIMSS. “The fact that informatics nurses see lack of systems integration as their primary obstacle suggests they understand the potential impact on patient safety when information cannot move seamlessly from system to system, facility to facility. They’re increasingly having a significant impact and are becoming leaders in advancing the best use of healthcare IT.”
According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents hold an accredited certification, with 19 percent holding a nursing informatics specialty certification and another 35 percent currently pursuing that certification. Nearly 9 in 10 (88 percent) are members of at least one professional association.
Nearly two-fifths (39 percent) reported they have been nurse informaticists for 10 years or more, vs. 33 percent in 2007. More than one-third (37 percent) have titles that identify their position as a nurse informaticist vs. one-third three years ago.
Regarding types of systems they are participating in developing, 77 percent named clinical documentation and 62 percent said electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR), which was not listed in the top three in 2007. Also listed were computerized practitioner order entry (CPOE), at 60 percent, and clinical information systems (58 percent).
Other findings of the survey:
– Almost half (46 percent) have 16 years or more of clinical experience and another 20 percent had 11 to 15 years of clinical experience.
– Regarding nursing background, 44 percent specialized in critical care and 43 percent worked on the medical/surgical floor.
– 56 percent have post-graduate degrees, compared to 52 percent in 2007; 35 percent have a master’s degree in nursing.
– 52 percent report to the IT department, 32 percent to nursing and 22 percent to administration. This suggests a shift to the administration arena, away from nursing as in 2007, 38 percent said they reported to the nursing department and 17 percent to administration.
– The web-based survey included 660 nurse informaticists, nearly half of whom (48 percent) work in a hospital and another 20 percent in the corporate offices of a healthcare system. The remaining respondents work for a variety of organizations, including other providers such as ambulatory care facilities and home health agencies, as well as managed care/insurance companies and government or military facilities.