Demand for Nursing Informatics

Question:

Do you think there will be a continuing demand for nurses in the informatics field and if so why?

Answers from Willa Fields:

The short answer is a resounding YES!

Why am I so certain? I did a Google search on: demand nurse informatics, to see if there is any evidence to support my opinion. And WOW is what I have to say! My search identified millions of hits. I perused the first five pages or so and read a consistent message and prediction about a continued demand for nurses in the informatics field.

Why will nurse informaticists continue to be needed, and needed in increasing numbers? The primary drivers include interplay among advancing technologic innovations, the HITECH Act and Health Care Reform. Let’s look at each of these drivers.

Advancing technologic innovations are transforming everything we do from social media to digitizing just about everything. Just look at your personal life, let alone your professional life. The same transformation is happening in health care. Health care technology is also advancing at a rapid rate and includes mobile health applications, electronic health records, and clinical decision support systems, to name just a few.

To meet our national health care priorities of better care, healthier people and communities, and affordable care, we must continue to integrate health care and technology through clinical and business information systems. To provide better care, we need data. To improve the health of our people and communities, we need data. To make health care more affordable, we need data. These data are most efficiently collected, retrieved and analyzed with technology.

Nurses and more specifically, nurse informaticists are key to the successful implementation and use of these technologies and systems. Nurses are the largest group of health care workers. Nurses know clinical workflows. Nurses know patient care. Nurses know hospital operations. Nurse informaticists know how to incorporate technology into workflows and patient care. Nurse informaticists’ skills and knowledge are needed as we transform health care through the adoption of technology.

The HITECH Act is driving the demand for technologic advances.

The HITECH Act has incentivized providers and hospitals to implement certified electronic health records over the next few years. Software vendors and hospitals need nurse informaticists to help design, build, implement, and maintain these systems. Since the technology will continue to change, systems will need to be upgraded. Nurse informaticists will continue to be in high demand as liaisons among clinicians, patients, information systems departments, and vendors.

Health Care Reform is driving the demand for technologic advances.

One of the goals of Health Care Reform is to meet our national health care priorities. Again, we need data to evaluate patient care and outcomes. As the need for data increases, so does the need for technologic innovations. It’s a continuous cycle of data needs and technological advances.

Nurse informaticists are critical for the successful adoption and continued use of the technology to transform health care.   So, if you are a nurse with a strong clinical background and certified in informatics, you have a bright future. Congratulations!

Answers from Jeanette Polaschek:

There is little doubt that nurses will continue to be in high demand within the field of clinical informatics.  The rate of technology adoption within the health care community, from small physician practices to large medical centers and integrated delivery networks, continues to grow as a result of legislative mandates, financial incentives and the need coordinate the care of patients across multiple providers.

Federal incentives have infused billions of dollars into spending on health care technology.  Medical centers across the country are installing electronic health records at record rates while disparate organizations are coming together to share information with goals of improving patient care and better managing resources.  One of the most important criteria for success is communicating the value of automated tools.  Attention to change management strategy and benefits realization is critical to growth and sustainability. 

Nurses with informatics training will continue to be a key resource in all these efforts.  Project teams need the expertise that comes with understanding patient care processes.  Nurses have traditionally worked as patient advocate and as the coordinator of a patient’s care.  These skills transfer well into the field of informatics where the management of information is key to better patient outcomes.

July 2012