Impact on Informatics on Nursing

What impact has Informatics had on your nursing career? What advice do you have for nurses trying to make an impact with Informatics in their own positions?

Thanks for the question.  I strongly believe that patient safety and quality care can be greatly enhanced by the tools offered by computer-assisted decision support.  The goal is to turn data into information and ultimately into knowledge.  Clinical business intelligence solutions feed performance management efforts.  That is, the insight from clinical information systems can be used as fact-based knowledge to support rapid cycle improvement processes.  It is when nurses and other clinical team member apply the knowledge to these rapid-cycle improvement processes that patients are made safer and care delivery improves.

Being an informatics nurses has truly opened doors for me.  My career has morphed to the point that I am fully immersed in clinical business intelligence and analytics.  I love it!  I am the CNO of MedeAnalytics, which is exclusively a healthcare decision support, business intelligence company, and performance management company.  I also am on the faculty at the University of Colorado College of Nursing.  I teach a course on Decision Support and Data Management for graduate and certificate students.  I have taught this class for three years.  Last year was the first time that the course was mandatory.  This meant that I has students who, different from previous years, were not self-selecting the class out of a strong personal and academic interest.  Instead I now had students that would probably have avoided the class, but were now force to attend.  Whoa!  Some students were resistant to learning about electronic decision support tools, key performance indicators, data warehouses, data marts, artificial neural networks, predictive analytics, model building, simulation, business intelligence, group knowledge networks, etc.  The fact that some nursing informatics students were a bit resistant to learning this body of knowledge is inconceivable to me.  As the healthcare informatics landscape changes and becomes more sophisticated informatics nurses will need to be knowledgeable on computer-based decision support, clinical business intelligence and performance management.  When one does not know something, the worst thing to do  is to shy away from the new body of knowledge, while the best course of action is to embrace the new ideas, learn them, and become proficient.  When you learn something new the best way to retain it is to share your knowledge with others and together you will all grow.

My advice is for every informatics nurse to enthusiastically grab hold of this all the elements of clinical decision support and clinical business intelligence body of knowledge and move from novice to expert. Undoubtedly, now that we have the clinical data in the form of EHRs, the demand for nurses who can design and build data marts and understand the principals of conformed dimensions will be huge.  These nurses can bring the fact-based knowledge to the rapid-cycle improvement process teams to enable them to make care improvements -- both for a single patient and for populations of patients.

I am hopeful that you will embrace analytics and make this part of your body of knowledge.  It will truly enhance your career.  The true beneficiaries of informatics nurses knowing and understanding analytics are the patients.