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Ellen Makar: Nursing Informatics Leader

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, December 2, 2010

While working at Oxford, Makar helped a few patients with unique cases. One man who was having a heart attack in a hospital parking lot called the help line to confirm his fears because he was afraid to walk inside. Makar didn't get many calls on September 11, 2001 because cell phone service was out, but the next day she took several calls from people who had fled Manhattan on foot and had developed severe blisters, but didn't want to bother their primary care physician with such a relatively minor problem. Of course, people also called for more severe injuries and because they couldn't get through to their primary care physician.

When Oxford was bought by UnitedHealth Group in 2004, Makar took a buyout package and considered returning to ICU nursing because she had kept up her clinical skills on the weekends. Ultimately, she took a nursing position at a local hospital, but soon decided to enroll in the Yale School of Nursing to earn her master's degree and took her current post at Yale New Haven Health System.

Since she took on the role of finance clinical coordinator for decision support, Makar has focused on collecting and analyzing useful data that speaks to nursing. She believes informatics can make nurses' jobs better and improve patient care.

"Surprisingly, we find nursing data even today it's hand collected—the problem is you are limited on how you can use it," she says. "You have to get really granular with keywords and decision algorithms, which can assist a nurse to offer the best patient care. It's an exciting, dynamic area and it will make a real difference for nurses because nurses are all about patients. If we can have the data speak to nurses' workload, we can make care better for patients."

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