The HIMSS informatics clinician community has gleaned and reflected on important insights from the 2022 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey. This survey coupled with the release of the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 consensus report, Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity (National Academy of Medicine 2021), have produced evidence on the benefits and demand for nurse informaticists. This is especially true of healthcare information systems experts-developers and implementors who use project management and change management expertise to optimize electronic health records, quality initiatives, and data management and reporting. The results of the survey and report especially resonated for the last three years which saw the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when clinicians experienced pressure to deliver quality care under duress.
Since the previous study conducted in 2020, it appears there’s a transformation afoot in the ways nursing informaticists work, are paid, focus on continuing education, in how they occupy leadership roles, and in department structures. The survey revealed that informaticists are looking at new technologies in the future to improve and change care. The survey that included 1,100 North America and international respondents (the latter who made up 5%) uncovered three themes: nursing informatics value, new ways of practice, emerging leadership roles and organizational structures.
Survey results also show that nurse informaticists value of themselves and their value perceived by their colleagues is an issue to explore. In 2022, 60% of nurse informaticists reported a salary over $100,000. That’s an increase from the reported 49% in 2020, 45% in 2017, and 33% in 2014. The study said that nurse informaticists with higher levels of formal education tend to have higher salaries; 25% with a Ph.D. or equivalent degree have a salary over $176,000, compared to 8%-12% of all other degrees, positing that a higher education level results in higher pay. To that end, the number of nursing informaticists with master's level education is increasing, and more are pursuing doctoral nursing degrees. An increase in the percent of respondents obtaining their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree — 8% was a 2% increase from 2020.”
Nursing informatics are becoming a more established specialty in the healthcare industry with 39% of the respondents having more than 10 years of experience in informatics and 76% said they were “highly satisfied” satisfied with their career; but 25% reported that their role is not at all valued at their organization. Fifty-three percent of the respondents felt more valued in traditional functions, such as training, nursing practice support and system redesign rather than the modern shift to foster innovation, enhanced digital platforms, supported social determinants of health and work with artificial intelligence (AI).
As the nursing informatics niche becomes more established, interest is also growing in innovation, intelligent and virtual technologies, and in the field that support the development, adoption, implementation and sustaining new care models. New leadership roles such as a chief nursing informatics officer (CNIO), has increased to 54% a 10% jump from 2020 and the job is becoming more commonplace.
The survey findings show that respondents are beginning to meet the technology-focused guidance outlined in Future of Nursing 2020-2030 study Recommendation 6 (NAM 2021):
"All public and private healthcare systems should incorporate nursing expertise in designing, generating, analyzing, and applying data to support initiatives focused on social determinants of health and health equity using diverse digital platforms, artificial intelligence, and other innovative technologies."
The workforce study added new selections in 2022, including those related to nursing informatics working in innovation, emerging technologies and novel care models; and they can transform nursing informatics roles and functions, and add value in today's evolving healthcare environments.
With the emergence of revolutionary technologies, nurse informaticists report they are increasingly applying their expertise in applications related to digital health: 31% reported their involvement in systems integration; , 28% in mobile tech; and 24% in medical device integration.
The future of nursing informatics is imperative as it addresses workforce challenges, increasing compensation, advancing informatics education – all for the specialty to thrive globally. Our HIMSS clinician communities, including nursing and physician committees and taskforces, are taking a deeper dive into articulating, and substantiating our specialty’s value. We take an interprofessional approach to enhance the workforce, and improve an understanding of the informatics role and its contribution to health equity and value-based care. We believe informaticists will optimize workplaces, patient care quality, and the health outcomes of individuals worldwide.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2021). The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25982.