As I recently wrapped up my Master of Science in Nursing Informatics program, the one question I seem to get a lot is, “And what exactly is nursing informatics?”

I then try to annotate the American Nursing Association’s definition that describes nursing informatics (NI) as, “the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information management and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice. NI supports nurses, consumers, patients, the inter-professional healthcare team and other stakeholders in their decision making in all roles and settings to achieve desired outcomes.”

Essentially, an informatics nurse specialist, or INS, combines clinical knowledge with knowledge and skills learned about technology to bring the two worlds together to become more strategic and forward thinking on how to standardize documentation, enhance care coordination, increase quality and decrease variations in care.

Specializing in NI helps me support the Encompass Health purpose by delivering high-quality, evidence-based care. 

The informatics nurse specialist, or nurse informaticists, is often the change agent of many innovative projects within an organization. They are able to similarly manage a project just as they would a patient’s plan of care using the nursing process (Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation).

So what value does a nurse informaticists bring to an organization?

  • Support clinical work processes using technology
  • Bilingual – we speak clinical and technology
  • Re-engineer clinical workflow and facilitate change management
  • Provide nursing content to standardized languages
  • Strengthen the interprofessional collaboration across all settings
  • Enable cost savings and productivity goals

Where might you find a nurse informaticists functional areas within an organization?

  • Administration, Leadership & Management
  • System Analysis and Design
  • Compliance
  • Development of systems, products and resources
  • Education and professional development
  • Policy development
  • Quality and performance improvement
  • Research
  • Technology implementation: telehealth and informatics

As you can see, nursing informatics is much more than turning data into information, but rather it is using the knowledge and wisdom from the information to positively impact many areas of an organization with the ultimate goal to improve quality and delivery of evidence-based patient-centered care.

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