- Nursing informaticists make use of data and technology to improve patient care.
- Nursing informatics does not involve working directly on patient treatment.
- You will need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, at minimum, to work in nursing informatics.
If you’re someone who loves working with technology and if you feel inclined to use your skills in the healthcare industry to improve outcomes, then you may be a good fit for nursing informatics.
This blog will help you understand what nursing informatics is and what your degree and career in this field will look like.
Here’s a quick fact that defines nursing informatics: Nursing informatics doesn’t involve directly working in treating patients. Instead, nurse informatics is about working with data and technology to improve patient care.
Nursing informatics is a specialized field within healthcare. It can be defined as a blend of nursing and information technology. Individuals who work in nursing informatics organize large chunks of data, analyze it, and communicate their findings to improve the quality of care.
Some important types of data that they work with include patient health records, like medical histories, treatment plans, lab results, and other similar information. They also analyze clinical data to identify patterns and trends that they could use to evaluate the effectiveness of care and improve the quality of treatment.
Another important task is to use data tools for predicting patient outcomes, identifying risks, and analyzing health trends to help make better care decisions and allocate resources effectively.
In simpler terms, nursing informatics involves the use of computers, software, and other technological resources to collect, analyze, and manage patient data more efficiently. This can include electronic health records (EHRs), clinical decision support systems, and various other digital tools that aid in patient monitoring, documentation, and communication among healthcare teams.
Wondering if you’ll have to perform the duties of a typical nurse? According to a HIMSS survey, more than 70% of nurse informaticists do not provide any clinical care.
As a nurse informaticist, you play an integral role in healthcare by performing many important tasks every day. Your top duties will include leading systems implementation (e.g., introducing new technologies into the existing system), focusing on system optimization and utilization to maximize existing system efficiency, overseeing project management for informatics projects, actively contributing to systems development, and ensuring quality initiatives and reporting to continually improve healthcare quality through data analysis and reporting.
Now that we have answered the question “What is nursing informatics?” let’s take a look at why this field is so popular. Here are some reasons why nursing informatics is rated as one of the best careers out there:
- Great demand: In today’s healthcare landscape, there is an increasing need for skilled professionals who can bridge the gap between clinical care and technology. The increasing demand for nurse informatics is driven by the growing reliance on technology in healthcare settings to enhance patient care. With the ongoing digitization of healthcare records and the increasing focus on data-driven decision-making, the job outlook for nursing informaticists is promising.
- Good compensation: Nurse informaticists are well-compensated for their work. They are seen as valuable members of any organization due to the significant work they perform. According to the HIMSS survey conducted in 2023, a majority of nurse informaticists made between $100,000 and $125,000. This study also revealed that nurse informaticists with higher levels of formal education tend to have higher salaries.
- Career satisfaction: In nursing informatics, you can see how your work helps patients. Whether you’re making tasks easier, setting up a better system for team communication, or using data to improve quality, the satisfaction of knowing you’re making a big impact is unmatched. According to the HIMSS survey, a majority of the respondents were ‘highly satisfied’ with their careers.
- Continuous learning: Nursing informatics is a field that is witnessing constant change. You will need to keep up with the latest tech advancements and upgrade your knowledge by learning new skills. This intellectual challenge can be satisfying, and you will find yourself growing and evolving in this role.
- Good benefits: Nursing informaticists often enjoy competitive salaries along with many benefits and perks. According to the HIMSS survey in 2022, nurse informaticists enjoyed a range of benefits. Some of the most popular benefits include a money-purchase pension plan, the ability to save in a 401(k) or 403(b) for retirement, medical and dental insurance, and life insurance.
- Hybrid work opportunities: The survey reveals that online and hybrid work is common in nurse informatics. Remote work has become increasingly common, with nearly 8 in 10 working remotely at some point during their work week. There is now a hybrid system in place that allows for more flexibility and adaptability in the work arrangements of nurse informaticists. This enables them to effectively contribute to healthcare technology while embracing a more flexible work environment.
- Job Variety: Nurse informatics offers a range of career options, including clinical analyst, informatics nurse specialist, telehealth clinical coordinator, informatics administrator, electronic health record system integration specialist, informatics consultant, faculty member, researcher, perioperative informatics nurse, and more. There’s a plethora of opportunities to explore. Whether you’re drawn to research, teaching, or working directly with care teams, there’s a role for you in this field.
Here are the 4 steps that you can follow to become a nurse informaticist:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN):
A bachelor of science in nursing is the minimum requirement to become a nurse informaticist. If you have an associate degree, then you could try to get your BSN through a bridge program.
- Get your licensure:
After your BSN, you can go on to appear for a national-level licensure exam. Almost all states require nurses to hold licensure. To get your license, you will need to appear for the NCLEX-RN.
- Masters of Science in Nursing:
While getting a master’s is not necessary for landing a job, you should consider pursuing one. A master’s in nursing informatics can get you a better salary and job prospects. You can also get leadership positions with your specialized knowledge.
- Board Certification:
If you want employers to know that you are qualified to provide top-notch services, then consider getting a board certification. Getting board certification in nursing informatics shows you have specialized knowledge and skills in using technology to improve patient care. It can make you more attractive to employers looking for experts in the field. Plus, it often leads to better job opportunities and the chance to take on leadership roles in healthcare settings.
Once you finish your bachelor’s degree, you have the option to pursue a master’s in nursing informatics. Many individuals in this field enjoy working with data. If you’re a BSN nurse who finds parsing through data more appealing than traditional nursing tasks, transitioning to nursing informatics through this pathway is a choice you should consider.
Here are some compelling reasons to get your MSN in Nursing Informatics:
1. Specialized knowledge:
Your BSN degree will give you the foundation for understanding healthcare systems and patient care. An MSN in nursing informatics will be just the right addition to that. With your MSN, you will be skilled in using technology to streamline nursing tasks and improve patient outcomes, making you an invaluable asset in today’s digital healthcare landscape.
2. Leadership roles:
Getting an MSN can help you step up as a leader in healthcare. With the expert knowledge and extra skills you’ll gain, you’ll be ready to take on bigger responsibilities and make a positive difference for patients.
3. Increased pay:
With your MSN, you will land leadership positions that will come with better pay and more specialized responsibilities. In nursing informatics, like most other professions, the more advanced the degree, the higher the pay.
4. Job satisfaction:
Your work will have a positive impact on the healthcare system as a whole and will bring about improvements in the efficiency of the care provided. Most nurse informaticists agree that they feel valued in the organization they work at and are very satisfied with their job.
The classes in your MSN in nursing informatics course will teach you how to manage healthcare data and use technology to improve patient care. You will find these classes very interesting if you enjoy working with technology and data in healthcare.
Here are some typical classes you will take:
1. Introduction to Nursing Informatics: An overview of the field, its history, and its role in healthcare.
2. Health Information Systems: Learning about electronic health records (EHRs), health data standards, and information management.
3. Data Analytics in Healthcare: Understanding how to collect, analyze, and interpret data to improve patient care and outcomes.
4. Clinical Decision Support Systems: Exploring tools and systems that help healthcare providers make informed decisions at the point of care.
5. Project Management in Healthcare: Learning the principles of managing healthcare IT projects, from planning to implementation.
These represent only a few standard classes, and there are additional ones not listed here. The curriculum may vary across universities so make sure you check with the university website.
With almost every industry taking advantage of technological advancements to improve its work, healthcare has followed suit. Healthcare organizations work with large amounts of data every day, and the best way to store and analyze this data is through the use of smart tools online. This reliance on technology has only been increasing, and so the job prospects for nurse informaticists look promising.
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for health information technologists, including nurse informaticists, is predicted to increase by 16% from 2022 to 2032. This growth rate is notably higher than the average for all other occupations.
The field of nurse informatics also offers competitive salaries along with good benefits. The HIMSS survey has given some interesting insights into the salary and benefits figures for nurse informatics. This survey conducted in 2022 informs us that a majority of nurse informaticists made about $100,000 and $125,000. The lower end of the spectrum made less than $50,000 and the higher end of the spectrum made about $300,000.
Nurse informaticists who pursue higher levels of education often command higher salaries. Individuals with ADNs/LPNs typically earn less or equal to $100,000 annually, while those with bachelor’s degrees can expect to make between $76,000 and $125,000 per year. Respondents who hold doctorates or are nurse practitioners report even higher earnings, with annual salaries of $176,000 or more.
As expected, nurse informaticists with more experience tend to have higher salaries. Beginners, i.e., those with 0 to 5 years of experience, generally make $51,000 to $100,000. With experience and further education, you can expect your salary to increase further.
Another interesting finding was that ‘Holding an informatics-related certification, such as those offered through the ANA, HIMSS, AMIA and AHIMA, is associated with higher salaries across all salary ranges when compared to those who are not certified.’
The results show that employers increasingly value nurse informaticists, possibly leading more of them to rise to top positions in their organizations.
People without a nursing degree can pursue a related profession like health informatics, so here is a comparison to help you decide which path might be right for you. Here is a table summarizing some of the key differences between nursing informatics and healthcare informatics:
|Nursing informatics blends the knowledge of nursing and information technology. They work with data in the healthcare organization to improve efficiency in care.
|Health informatics refers to managing data efficiently and safely in a healthcare organization.
|Nursing informatics has a limited scope and is primarily concerned with utilization of technology for patient care
|Health informatics has a broader scope. It works with data to improve processes like optimizing healthcare systems, enhancing patient care, and improving outcomes.
|The average annual salary is $134,219.
|The average annual salary is $73,000.
Best choice for you
If you’re more patient care-oriented, or if you want to continue to keep in touch with your nursing practice, then nursing informatics might be the right fit for you.
If you’re more data-oriented and come from a background like computer science, then this field might suit you better.
You may not be directly treating patients but you will help improve the care they receive in different ways. There are multiple roles in nursing informatics, and while the nature of the job will mostly be the same across roles, there may be a few differences.
There are different roles in this field; here are some of them:
1. Nursing Informatics Specialist:
A nursing informatics specialist is a healthcare professional who combines nursing knowledge with information technology skills to manage and analyze data, develop and implement software solutions, and improve patient care through the use of technology.
2. Clinical Analyst
A clinical analyst is a healthcare professional who specializes in analyzing data related to patient care, treatment, and outcomes to identify trends, improve processes, and optimize patient care.
3. Director/Manager of Clinical Informatics:
This role is responsible for overseeing the development, implementation, and management of clinical informatics systems and initiatives within a healthcare organization. This includes ensuring that the systems are aligned with clinical standards, guidelines, and best practices.
4. Chief Nursing Informatics Officer:
A Chief Nursing Informatics Officer is a high-level executive responsible for the organization and management of nursing informatics initiatives within a healthcare organization. This role involves setting the strategic direction, ensuring the implementation of best practices, and promoting the use of technology to improve patient care and outcomes.
5. Informatics Consultant:
An informatics consultant is a professional who provides guidance and support to healthcare organizations in implementing and optimizing information technology systems and solutions to improve patient care and outcomes.
6. Clinical Applications Specialist:
A clinical applications specialist is a healthcare professional who specializes in implementing, customizing, and supporting clinical software applications used by healthcare providers and other stakeholders.
HIMSS has recorded some interesting interviews with nurse informaticists. These interviews give insight into what a day in the life of a nurse informaticist could look like.
Everyone has a different story about how they got into this profession. Some entered because they were looking for a remote job that had good earning potential and many job options. Others discovered the potential in this field when they saw how patients would go through endless trouble because of the lack of information.
The ones on the executive level essentially plan and strategize in meetings that are mostly online. They make sure that the teams work to the best of their ability and do what they do best. These professionals may have two or three projects huddled together in one day.
If we were to go team-specific, then each team completes the tasks that they need to accomplish in line with the set goals. One common thing across all professionals in this space is that they are all extremely dedicated to improving patient care.
One shining example of the contribution of nurse informaticians can be seen in their role in implementing electronic health records (EHR). EHRs are digital versions of patients’ paper charts that contain their medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory test results.
Before the EHRs, medical errors were common. The reliance on paper-based records often led to issues such as illegible handwriting, misplaced files, and difficulty tracking patient histories. EHRs transformed healthcare by creating a centralized digital hub for patient information that lowers the chance of errors and improves communication.
Digital medication records in EHRs have become nurses’ best allies. Built-in alerts shield patients from dangerous drug interactions, and barcode scans ensure the right medicine reaches the right person. This has led to safer and more efficient care.
The top 5 most important skills for nurse informaticists include:
1. Clinical Knowledge: A solid understanding of nursing practices and healthcare processes is fundamental for the effective application of informatics in patient care.
2. Information Technology Proficiency: Competency in using healthcare information systems and electronic health records (EHRs) is crucial for managing health data and leveraging technology for better patient outcomes.
3. Communication Skills: Clear communication is essential for collaborating with diverse teams and ensuring that informatics solutions meet the needs of both technical and non-technical stakeholders.
4. Data Management Skills: The ability to collect, organize, and analyze data is critical for deriving meaningful insights and improving healthcare processes through informatics.
5. Passion for Healthcare Improvement: Most importantly, you should have a genuine passion for improving healthcare through informatics and be committed to making a positive impact on patient care and overall healthcare delivery.
Do you feel like you could help bridge the gap between healthcare and technology? If you feel like you’re interested in pursuing nursing informatics, then take time to do your research and maybe shadow a professional in this field.
The field allows you to play a direct role in shaping the future of healthcare delivery, utilizing your skills to optimize processes and ensure positive outcomes for patients. Because of the useful impact that your job will have, it may be a rewarding and satisfying journey for you.
In simple words, nursing informatics is a mix of nursing and information technology. Nursing informaticists work with data in the healthcare space to improve patient care.
Nursing informatics is a good career choice because it allows professionals to make a positive impact in the healthcare industry. This job also comes with very good benefits, like a good salary, other perks, and even remote work. Your benefits may vary depending on your employer, role, and location.