What’s Next for Nursing Informatics Executive Leaders?

Chief nursing informatics officers (CNIO)s take their place on the leadership team as C-suite executives charged with ensuring better health with information technology. With the evolution of and demand for this senior executive nursing position, the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Executive Workgroup developed a standardized CNIO job description for use throughout the healthcare, nursing and human resources communities.

The need for a standardized CNIO job description: As the CNIO role varies within healthcare organizations, it’s essential to have a standardized job description that can be referenced for needed competencies regardless of specific job title. This document provides recommendations for a C-Suite level CNIO job description, including Qualifications and Experience, Key Responsibilities, and Reporting Structure.

Today, 69 percent (Quarter 2, 2016) of more than 5,400 U.S., non-governmental hospitals use health IT systems at Stages 5, 6 or 7 on the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM)SM, which tracks adoption of health IT across eight stages with Stage 7 a paperless environment and a more sophisticated level of health IT implementation and use. As a result, the demand has increased for more experienced nurses, with advanced expertise in informatics, who can lead a team or department and apply that leadership knowledge on strategy, quality, patient safety, policy/procedure and technology.   

“The specialty of nursing informatics is maturing, creating the opportunity for new job titles and roles. With that in mind, we are attempting to standardize the CNIO job description, so that healthcare providers who are hiring these individuals know what skills are needed,” said Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, vice president, informatics, HIMSS North America. “Also, nurses seeking these roles will better understand the job requirements.”

Reporting structure and job titles: While using advanced health IT systems, nurses in senior leadership positions also work in a variety of reporting structures. Respondents to the 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey were asked to identify to whom their clinical informatics leaders reported. The top three reporting relationships for the chief nursing informatics officer are:

  • Chief nursing officer – 34 percent
  • Chief information officer – 25 percent
  • Chief executive officer – 16 percent

This varied reporting structure indicates the role of a CNIO differs within and across organizations. As a result, a standardized CNIO job description provides a credible reference for the required competencies, regardless of the job title or reporting structure. 

Blog Post: Chief Nursing Information Officer “I see my role as CNIO, as one that creates a climate that promotes staff engagement, and I hope to inspire nurses to adopt innovation as they think about their work at the side of a patient.” Patricia J. Mook MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CAHIMS, chief nursing information officer, Inova Health System

The job description can:

  • Serve as a reference for the nursing community, in general, and for nurses who want to advance their careers and plan their overall career path.
  • Provide recruiters and/or employers with information to more easily identify the right candidate for a CNIO position.  
  • Streamline course development for academia, so that coursework progresses to best equip nurses with the required informatics and leadership skills to meet the CNIO job requirements.

Learn more about the CNIO role in a blog post by Tanya Scott, DHL, MHR, RN, CPHIMS, CHTS-CP, CHTS-PW, CMUP, chief health strategy officer, managing partner, Lemont Scott Group.

Interested in learning more about nursing informatics? Take a look at the CNIO job description and Learn more about the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community.

Nurses; health IT