The HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago included the release this week of the 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey, which indicates, among numerous findings, that the role of nursing informatics is expanding and having notable impacts on workflow and productivity.
This year's study follows up on the research HIMSS performed in 2009 to evaluate the impact of informatics nurses on the healthcare IT environment.
Among the this year's top takeaways for healthcare IT personnel:
- 85% of the respondents believe informatics nurses bring value to the implementation phase of clinical systems processes
- 83% say informatics nurses bring value to the optimization phase of clinical systems processes
- 75% say informatics nurses are starting to play a critical role in ensuring user acceptance and adoption of emerging technologies
- 70% say nurses play an important role in medical device integration
"It is clear that informatics nurses will continue to be instrumental players in the analysis, implementation, and optimization of advanced information systems and emerging technologies that aim to improve the quality of patient care, while reducing costs," HIMSS said in a press release.
Guidance for IT and informatics collaboration
The time has come for these two fields to put more effort into working together to reap mutual rewards, suggests Eric Heil, healthcare IT expert and co-founder of RightCare. His company focuses on helping to reduce lengths of stay and improve care coordination, care transitions and patient outcomes at hospitals, post-acute care centers and skilled nursing facilities through predictive analytics.
"For the longest time, nurses have been underserved or under represented in the field of informatics—particularly around the use of it with IT products and solutions," Heil tells Healthcare Dive. With the recent disruptions in healthcare, however, nurses are beginning to voice their needs, and solutions are being developed by nurses and for nurses.
"It's a tremendous opportunity," Heil says, "and I think we need a lot more attention to nurse leadership and the efforts that they’re doing and can bring to IT solutions and informatics."
One of the biggest questions he sees is how to get more nurses to understand the impact of good, clean data being entered into EMRs, as well as the analyses and the insights that can come out of that and be delivered back to the point of care.
Among the greatest challenges he experiences is the issue of how to take all the great data trends that are located and put them back into the workflow. The first step toward overcoming such issues is through collaboration, Heil suggests.
Heil notes that in his experience, these fields have typically been performed in separate silos. For example, academic medical centers he has worked with have often had strong research underway, but not in collaboration with IT or frontline nurses.
"Now, one of the trends we’re seeing is more committees where IT and nurse informatics researchers are participating," he says. He calls that a good sign because it gives nursing informatics an appropriate seat at the table in the design of IT platforms or the roll out of major implementations.
As a result, both sides can benefit. For example, having nurse informatics help design workflow and processes can make an EMR system and deployment much more efficient and effective, Heil says.
Heil's advice to IT professionals is to lean on their colleagues in nursing informatics to bring them into the mix and get more out of the EMR.
"Just because you put the data into the EMR doesn't mean the EMR is able to bring to life critical insights or maintain constant learning," Heil says. "EMRs do not do everything that ultimately you need them to do; you've got to look at nursing informatics solutions to support and really leverage the investment you've already made in the EMR to really drive ROI."
Heil suggests that it can be valuable for those in IT to look beyond their department for insights and ideas on solutions. He also notes there are groups creating commercial nursing informatics solutions that can be complimentary to the EMR.
The future, as Heil sees it, is in inter-professionalism that breaks down old silos.
"It has to happen," he says. "The silos are why I think workflow and challenges are so rampant in healthcare, so we've got to start working together as a team."