Nursing Informatics



Nursing informatics is a branch of health informatics that combines the management and processing of nursing data and the continued education of nursing staff towards an automated health information system. According to the International Medical Informatics Association, “Nursing informatics is the integration of nursing, its information, and information management with information processing and communication technology, to support the health of people world wide.”

Often overlooked, Nursing informatics is an integral component of the struggle to convert medical institutions to a paperless system. Usually nurses have to take on the responsibility of training in IT without funding from their employers. It is necessary to educate and compromise with nursing staff to find a system that both meets their need and is comfortable for them to use.
Nurses can be a powerful ally for implementing new technologies in the medical community because they have to communicate between doctors, patients and administration.

As more people become insured, it has more critical for hospitals to have the right staff in place to meet the increased demand for health services. Thus, making it vital to get nurses trained and involved in the design of new technologies.

Importance of adoption:

The nursing profession is unique among health care professionals. Cross-communicating between administration, doctors and patient, they are in a situation to bridge the gap between the many areas of health care. " Nurses, because of the nature of their wok, have the rare opportunity to experience life in ways few have the privilege. They are present at birthing, birth, across the life span, in schools, homes, churches, neighborhood gatherings, work settings and again at death and dying." (Wesorick, 2002, p.31) Nurses are involved in every aspect of health care, so to get their support of an IT system could be the turning point for health care IT.

Some benefits include:

  • Patient Charting: A patient’s vital signs, admission and nursing assessments, care plan and nursing notes can be entered into the system either as structured or free text. These are the stored in a central repository and retrieved when needed.
  • Staff Schedules: Nurse can self schedule their shifts using scheduling rules provided in shift modules. The shifts can later be confirmed or changed by a scheduling coordinator or manager. Shift modules are designed to handle absences, overtime, staffing levels and cost-effective staffing.
  • Clinical Data Integration: Here clinical information from all the disciplines can be retrieved, viewed and analyzed by nursing staff and then integrated into a patient’s care plan.
  • Decision Support: They provide prompts and reminders, along with guides to disease linkages between signs/symptoms, etiologies/related factors and patient populations. Online access to medical resources can also be made available. (Nursing-Informatics for Students)

Difficulties of adoption:

The biggest obstacle facing the adoption of IT in the Nursing profession is the design of the systems. Most nurses feel that the programs and equipment do not mesh well with their duties. "A large number of nurses with experience in many of the current technology offerings say the same thing: Give us systems that are designed to work the same way we do, not ones that make us reinvent our jobs. That isn’t stubbornness talking. Nurses want systems that help them perform what they see as their primary task—performing patient-centered care. If technology gets in the way of that or forces them to focus more on the technology than the patient, they want no part of it." (Crounse, Microsoft healthcare providers.)

In addition to the poorly designed programs, nurses are often responsible for buying their own lap tops and PDA's, and even pay for many of their training courses. (eWeek)

The Nursing Process

The nursing process has four main steps: planning, implementation, evaluation, and assessment. However, because information management is integrated into the nursing process and practice, some nursing communities identify a fifth step in the nursing process: documentation. Documentation and patient-centered care are the core components of the nursing process. Automated documentation is vitally important, not just for nursing, but for all patient care. Up-to-date, accurate information at each step of the nursing process is the key to safe, high quality patient-centered care.

The successful implementation of information systems in nursing and healthcare requires several factors. First, it is necessary to have well designed systems that support the nursing process within the culture of an organization. The second requirement is having the acceptance and integration of information systems into the regular workflow of the nursing process and patient care. Finally, it is important to have resources that can support the previously mentioned factors. One of the most effective and valuable resources a healthcare organization can add is a Nursing Informaticist.

Why these jobs are Important to healthcare?

Nursing Informaticists bring a great deal of value to patients and the healthcare system. Ways they provide value include:
  • Supporting nursing work processes using technology
  • Increasing the accuracy and completeness of nursing documentation
  • Improving the nurse’s workflow
  • Automating the collection and reuse of nursing data
  • Facilitating analysis of clinical data
  • Providing nursing content to standardized languages
  • Analyze clinical and financial data
  • Promote and facilitate access to resources and references
  • Enhance continuity of care
  • Improve relationships between providers and recipients of health care
  • Enable cost savings and productivity goals
  • Nurse Informaticists are Bi-Lingual!

Job Responsibilities

  • Vendors, including sales, software development, implementation, and education to train clients/users.
  • Hospital Systems, including staff nurse, analyst (support/implement systems), directors/managers of nursing informatics, project managers, and CIO (Chief Information Officer).
  • Consultant, including software implementation, software/system solution selection, process improvement, and project management
  • Education/ Research
  • Long-term care
  • Ambulatory care
  • Home care
  • Telehealth

Improving Nursing Care Through Technology

Nurses constitute the largest segment of the nation’s health care workforce at 3.1 million. In their front-line roles, nurses can play a vital role in helping realize the objectives set forth in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. A number of barriers prevent nurses from being able to respond effectively to rapidly changing health care settings and an evolving health care system. These barriers must be overcome to ensure that nurses are well- positioned to lead change and advance health. Technologies can create better work environment for nurses:
  • Improve safety and efficiency
  • Free clinicians from tasks
  • Bring evidence for decisions to point of care
  • Empower patients to be involved in care
  • Enable nurses to:
    • Integrate data into health information
    • Consult in the home, LTC, Assisted living
    • Coordinate care across settings


American Nursing Informatics Association
Nursing Informatics Competency: Self-assessment
Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI)