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Informatics Nurses Forge Ahead in Changing World of Healthcare

Informatics nurses in meeting

Gail Mercer, RNAsh Goel, MD

Whether you are new to your role as an informatics nurse, a seasoned specialist, performing research or consulting internationally as a project manager for EHR implementations, you know the exhilaration of discovery and the satisfaction of helping others.

Are You Feeling the Paradigm Shift?

Early nursing icons such as Florence Nightingale left a legacy of energy, vision and activism that lives on in nurses today.

Modern nurses demonstrate the same courage and grit as they shift and adjust their practice to thrive in our changing healthcare economy and increasingly global digital culture. Successful adaptation must include the rapid adoption of technology, while participating in its meaningful design and ethical use. Technology expands our boundaries exponentially.

Nurses continue to impact patients and families not only in their place of employment, but throughout their communities. Using technology to understand the dynamics of population health and wellness promotion will be as important to our success long term as our illness prevention/management focus has been historically.

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Nurse Informaticist Contributions to the Team

“Under-appreciated” is the term that comes to mind for the role clinical informatics teams play in this journey. Collaborative practice is the essence of what we do and these contributions are prone to being overlooked.

The work—from assessing the healthcare team’s use of technology to the effective information flow between team members, departments, phases of care and encounter types—isn’t a center stage role, but crucial nonetheless. Demand for information, including accessible reports, dashboards and predictive data modeling, all enable the nursing workforce to meet the demands of their day.

Like Nightingale, informatics nurses must have the resilience to withstand the stresses of change while providing skillful change management for our end users. It is our responsibility to “lean forward” in the building of EHR infrastructure that supports excellent professional practice and fiscal success. This includes optimizing documentation efficiency and usability, reducing workflow waste and partnering with clinicians to develop standard work for best clinical outcomes. Identifying safety risks and innovating to reduce opportunity for human error are also fundamental to this collaborative work.

Informatics nurses connect direct care clinicians to technological change, preparing them for the ways that technology is reshaping nursing and healthcare overall. In fact, we can celebrate the transformation of traditional nursing from collecting and monitoring data to supervising care, assessing social determinants of health, teaching and promoting wellness, and connecting patients to community resources.

Authoring the roles of tomorrow while preserving the art of nursing through demonstrations of compassion, anchoring practice to our value of humanity and protecting the individual right to self-determination in healthcare choices is not a challenge for the faint of heart.

Let us not go off the rails in our rush to technological progress, but by all means, enjoy the ride.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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Originally published May 10, 2019