What is nursing informatics?

Nursing informatics is the integration of clinical nursing with information management and computer operations. It is a relatively new focus in healthcare that combines nursing skills with information technology expertise. Nurse informatics manage and communicate nursing data and information to improve decision-making by consumers, patients, nurses, and other healthcare providers.

The nursing process consists of four main steps: planning, implementation, evaluation and evaluation. However, as 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 essential components of the nursing process. Automated documentation is extremely important, not just for nursing, but for all patient care. Accurate, up-to-date information at every step of the nursing process is key to safe, high-quality, patient-centered care.

Successful implementation of information systems in nursing and healthcare requires the following: First, it is essential to have well-designed systems that support the nursing process within the organization’s culture. The second condition is 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 factors mentioned earlier. One of the most effective and valuable resources a health care organization can add is a nurse informatics specialist.

Nursing informatics specialists

Nursing informatics are experienced clinicians with an extensive background in clinical practice. These individuals have experience using and implementing the nursing process. These nurses have excellent analytical and critical thinking skills. They also understand the patient care delivery workflow and integration points for automated documentation. Additional education and experience in information systems is also important for this profession. Finally, nursing informatics are excellent project managers because of the similarities between the project management process and the nursing process.

To be competitive in this field, one must become familiar with relational databases by taking a class on database structure. They must also become proficient and comfortable with MS Office, particularly Excel, Access and Visio.

Why are these jobs important to healthcare?

Nurse and health informatics provide significant value to patients and the health care system. Some examples of how they provide value include:

  • Provide support for nursing work processes using technology
  • Increase accuracy and completeness of nursing documentation
  • Improve nurse workflow
  • Automate collection and reuse of nursing data
  • Facilitate clinical data analysis
  • Providing nursing content for unified languages


To provide some basic information in the field of healthcare/nursing informatics, there are some governing bodies for this field. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is the primary governing body for healthcare professionals and nursing informatics. This group, which was formed in 2004, has the following four goals: awareness, education, resources (including websites), and RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization).

RHIOs are also known as Community Health Information Networks (CHINs). These are the networks that connect doctors, hospitals, laboratories, radiology centers, and insurance companies, all sharing and transmitting patient information electronically through a secure system. Those organizations that are part of RHIOs have a commercial interest in improving the quality of health care that is administered.

Steps to get a job in this field

To get into the field of nursing informatics, you usually need a minimum of four years’ degree. Specific degrees are available in health informatics. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is also a requirement before applying for the ANCC Nursing Informatics Certification Exam. Some individuals start with only a two-year certificate or diploma, but go on to earn a BSN before becoming certified. Although there are many different ways to enter the field, the most preferred way is to obtain a master’s degree in Nursing Informatics from scratch, however, most individuals start their career before obtaining a master’s degree.

Most nurse informatics begin in a specialty area, such as the intensive care unit (ICU), perioperative services (OR), surgical medicine, orthopedic nursing, or oncology, to name a few, and work in that specialty area for a long time. Working in the field of specialization helps nurses to get acquainted with the normal work procedures and routines, as well as to understand the patient care process in their specialty. They are usually experts in their field and then develop an interest in computerized documentation or some other technological healthcare field. They then tend to gradually move into an information systems clinical support role.

If you have an interest in nursing and technology, this could be a career that can match these two skills into one rewarding job.


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