HealthNovember 20, 2023

Leadership opportunities for nurse informaticists bridge data technology and nursing science

From a financial standpoint, many healthcare leaders consider nursing a cost rather than a potential revenue generator. During a Wolters Kluwer-sponsored HIMSS webinar, nurse leaders discuss the nurse informaticist's contributions in advancing value-based care quantifiably – using technology, data collection, and analysis.

During a recent HIMSS webinar, Nurses Count: Classifying Nursing Value with Informatics and Data, sponsored by Wolters Kluwer, top nurse leaders share insights on the developing role of nurse informaticists and their increasing impact on alternative care delivery models and improvements in nursing workflow efficiencies, productivity, and patient outcomes. The one clear message from the webinar? It's time to change how healthcare system administrators calculate nursing's value and impact on patient care.

Distinguished participants include moderator Wolters Kluwer Chief Nurse Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN, and panelists Jill Evans, MSN, RN, RN-BC, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Clinical Informatics, Chief of Connected Care, Virtual Care Enterprise, Metro Health; Nancy Beale, PhD, RN-BC, Chief Nurse Executive/CCIO, Telemetrix; and Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, FNAP, Professor and Dean, University of Minnesota School of Nursing.

Question: How has the role of the nursing informaticist evolved over the last 10 years at healthcare systems? What type of impact did the role have during and after the pandemic?

Dr. Beale: "We've continued to spend a lot of the nursing informaticist's effort implementing technologies. But, in addition to just implementation or support of technology, nurses are at that important juncture of taking on the role to be translators ─ understanding the data, the application of artificial intelligence (AI), clinical decision support, and predictive analytics, and using that data in practice and helping clinical practitioners understand how to leverage technology. We've also significantly moved from more informal routes, such as project champions and super users, to more formalized routes to opportunities in the role of an informaticist. Typically, this has been borne out of additional foundational knowledge important to nursing informaticists generally obtained through graduate education."

Dr. Delaney: "To build on Nancy's comment, we truly are translators. The call for more formality and absolute intentionality is deeply with us; and, that call has a critical component of realizing, accepting, and acting on how empowered we are and can be more in the moment toward solutions with a very integrative approach. We have never been in a more empowered position as we are right now regarding nursing visibility and impact on patients' families and community ─ particularly in terms of not only outcomes, but safety, quality, and costs. Perhaps the key realization in this deeply value-oriented world is this recognition of 60% of the healthcare dollar ─ the payments ─ are in value-based models. Living in the value-based payment world is absolutely critical."

Evans: "The role of nursing informaticists continues to grow and is becoming more of an integral part of nursing operations and information technology. One of our evolving technologies is evaluations for the staff where we explain to nurses clearly how it's going to work and benefit them, as well as how it benefits our nursing counterparts on the floors. Our nurses will need to use and interact with AI and any of those pieces and parts [being implemented]. If they don't have a good understanding of what is coming, they won't use nor find value in it. Nursing informaticists, in my organization, have been valuable in explaining to and getting nurses to see how technology enhances — and not replaces — the work that we're doing and why we all need to use the tools to care for our patients the best way we can."

Question: Most US healthcare systems are struggling with the amount of data and choosing the right data to analyze to determine opportunities for change and process improvement. What is the nursing informaticist's role in data mining and analysis? How can informaticists use the information to improve outcomes for patients?

Dr. Delaney: "All health systems are struggling with the amount of data and choosing the right data to analyze opportunities for change and transformation. One of the primary roles of nursing informaticians is partnering with nursing executives and care providers to maintain that amount of data, meaning we need to continue to boldly lead in determining what type of data, how much, and choosing the right data for the different analytics; and more specifically, beyond leading and envisioning we need to welcome and recognize all the data that are there and create our teams to partner on the data mining and analysis. In nursing, we have phenomenal work going on in big data. In fact, data mining and analysis led through the vision of the nursing lens is quite prolific. Yet, we've barely touched what can all be possible."

Evans: "The one word that comes to me about the nurse informaticist's role is 'interpreter.' They must be able to look at the information, talk to leaders of the organization and nurses at the bedside, explain to them what that data means, and get their feedback. That information allows them to look at the patients they are caring for, look at the performance improvement projects they want to help impact, and ultimately use that data to drive change. If they understand the information they're putting into the electronic health record and their contributions to it, they can better understand how they can make positive change for their patients."

Dr. Beale: "Nurses and nurse informaticists are uniquely positioned to bring the vantage point and nursing science to the equation when we talk about the volumes of data we're collecting in a healthcare setting. We are well positioned to be able to say 'this is the right data to be viewed at the right time in the workflow for clinicians' and then we can recommend what that view should look like in the technology. We know what is important to providing care for the patient both at the bedside and in data review away from the bedside. It's really all in how you present that data. Translating those requirements or requests to the technology teams who are building those views and doing the analysis of the data and ensuring that data is used in the right manner ─ that's where we have an opportunity to bridge technology, computer science, and nursing science together to bring the right data to the clinicians."

Watch the on-demand recording.

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