What is an Informatics Nurse?

One of the careers expected to grow exponentially is that of the informatics nurse. In a recent survey 95 percent of health care responders said that information technology is a vital tool for the success of health care organizations. The implementation of IT into the healthcare industry and its facilities requires someone that is adept at computer science and aware of nursing issues. That is where the profession of informatics nursing comes in.

What is Informatics?

Informatics is the science of processing informational data for storage and retrieval. As applied to nursing, it integrates nursing with information management and communication to advance the healthcare in individuals and populations. Informatics nurses have computer and nursing skills.

What Do They Do?

The science, at its core, includes direct delivery of health care services, administration, research and administration. Most informatics nurses work in acute or long-term care. They may assist in monitoring data from computer-enhanced medical devices or managing how the information is stored on the facility computer system. These nurses are usually not involved with direct patient care, however. Instead, they work with the systems that help in service delivery and in maintaining electronic health care records. Informatics nurses help health care facilities transition to digital data storage as well. They analyze service delivery and determine which IT systems would augment the patient care for better health outcomes. Their input is vital when a facility moves from paper records to EHR. The government is facilitating that movement and clinics, hospitals, insurance companies and other health-related organizations are following the mandate. Deciding what information to move from paper to computer storage demands the participation of someone who understands which data is integral to care and helps the facility to design a system that will perform the task.

Nursing informaticists also assist in training the people who will operate the system. In a long-term care environment the nurses act as “liaisons” between the IT department and the nursing staff. In home health care, informatics empowers patients by providing equipment in the home that monitors health information such as blood pressures and transmits that data to the home health nurse and to the doctor. Informatics nurses who work with in-home care providers assist in determining the kind of devices that are needed by the patient and in setting up the systems that assimilate the data and store it.

How Does Someone Become an Informatics Nurse?

The primary qualification for this a-career is an RN or BSN in nursing. Because informatics nurses need computer skills, the baccalaureate degree is preferable because the nurse can integrate IT classes into his or her program, and also because the bachelor’s degree is necessary for admission to graduate school, according to Discover Nursing. Most employers prefer applicants with graduate degrees. IT nurses also need to earn the Certified Associate in Healthcare Information Management Systems credential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for this professional will grow by 24 percent by 2024. The average median salary for a clinical informatics coordinator is $82,710.

Related Resource: What is a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

With the governmental mandate for health facilities to implement electronic health records, facilities and health organizations will compete for IT nurses. While nursing informatics is not usually a direct-patient-care component of nursing, it is vital to the improvement of healthcare to patients.