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HIMSS: 60% of Execs Say Informatics Nurses Have High Impact on Quality

 |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   April 15, 2015

Informatics nurses are seen as having great influence over workflow, patient safety, and user acceptance of clinical systems and processes, results from a HIMSS survey reveal.

Informatics nurses are increasingly recognized as valuable assets to healthcare organizations according to data from HIMSS' 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey. The results were released in conjunction with the nursing symposium at the 2015 HIMSS Annual conference in Chicago this week.

Maureen McCausland, DNSc, RN, FAAN,
Senior VP and CNO
MedStar Health

Of the 576 respondents, which included C-level executives, (one in five respondents said their organizations employ a chief nursing informatics officer) clinical analysts, and informatics nurses, 60% reported that informatics nurses have a "high degree" of impact on quality of care.

More specifically, informatics nurses were seen as being most valuable during the implementation and optimization phases of clinical systems processes, and were said to have great influence over workflow, patient safety, and user acceptance.

Maureen McCausland, DNSc, RN, FAAN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, MedStar Health, set the tone with her opening keynote session: Transforming the Vision of Nursing. "Nursing is not a binary profession, she said. "Innovation is essential to our practice."

McCausland predicted that because of new care models, big data, and other changes in healthcare delivery, nursing would move from using "evidence-based practice to practice-based evidence."

One example: At San Diego County's Palomar Health, a community-based health care services provider serving communities in an 850-square-mile area, informatics nurses are heavily invested in improving nursing workflow by addressing the issue of alarm fatigue.

When the health system opened its new hospital in Escondido, CA, it went to a distributed nursing model where there was no central nurses' station and nurses were kept close to the patients' bedsides. This called for alarms to be routed directly to staff members.

Because the number of alarms could easily become overwhelming, the informatics nurses asked questions about what the alarm parameters should be, what type of staff (nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, etc.) alarms should be routed to, and the alarms' escalation paths. The key takeaway: Always monitor the process before making changes.

Leading the Way
Stephanie Poe, DNP, RN-BC, chief nursing information officer, The Johns Hopkins Health System, got her start in informatics by coloring in bar charts with colored pencils. "I've always been fascinated by data," she said.

Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
President, ANA

The memory of sharing her early, handcrafted graphs with surveyors from The Joint Commission may make her cringe, but it was this dedication to using data and technology to make improvements in patient care that earned her the CNIO title.

Poe said CNIOs are valuable because they can be a bridge between education, quality, practice, research and IT. And while nothing has changed about the way she thinks or implements projects, she believes a title lends clout. "[It] changes the way people react to you and what you say."

Quality Improvement
In her closing keynote address, American Nurses Association President Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, focused on how nursing informatics is necessary to meet the demands of the changing healthcare landscape.

"In order to accomplish so many of the lofty goals we have in healthcare and health policy today," she said, "we have to have that enabled by health IT." Among those goals are improving patient safety and healthcare quality and decreasing adverse effects.

"Information technology is the steel thread running through achieving most of these goals. We have to be able to harness the ability and the technology we have to have data."

She finished her address by encouraging informatics nurses, and nurses in general, to become active and involved to help improve healthcare. She emphasized that change will only take place if nurses speak up and talk with leaders, colleagues, and other nurses about important issues.

"We need to live in the possible," she said.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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