The healthcare industry has experienced incredible technological advancements that allow medical professionals to gather and use healthcare data more efficiently. Nurses are at the forefront of this informatics revolution and are pivotal in using healthcare data in patient care. Nurse leaders are well positioned to use health informatics to support their staff, ensure quality healthcare delivery and improve organizational practices.
To gain in-demand health informatics skills, however, nursing professionals should consider an advanced degree. Radford University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration program prepares graduates for the responsibilities of nurse administrators, such as using nursing informatics.
What Is Health Informatics?
Health informatics is a specialized field that integrates science, knowledge and information technology to solve problems and make decisions in healthcare, as one article listed in the National Library of Medicine (NIH) notes. According to the “Healthcare Informatics” HIMSS article, health informatics “integrates nursing, science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice.”
The NIH notes that health informatics improves patient outcomes, streamlines quality assurance processes and enhances cost-effective care delivery and facility/practice management. The application of health informatics allows healthcare providers to share vital patient data and locate it when needed. It reduces data entry time and enables healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients.
Health informatics also provides patients access to their health information and motivates them to participate actively in their care. It can help organizations track and report findings to regulatory bodies and offers a standardized format for processing billing and Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements. It aids in implementing integrated care services across multiple disciplines and providers.
Rapidly Evolving Healthcare Landscape
As the healthcare system continues to evolve and integrate new technologies, so must nursing practice. Nurse leaders play an essential role in healthcare, using health data and technology to impact patient care and outcomes substantially. This means health data must be readily available and accurate.
Implementing the HITECH Act in 2009 expanded the Health Information Exchange (HIE). As a result, electronic health records (EHRs) became the new standard. EHRs allow nurses to access accurate, up-to-date health information, update patient records in real time, reduce errors and seamlessly integrate protocols and processes to provide appropriate, relevant, quality care.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have recently emerged as leading tools in healthcare research. Understanding how AI tools and algorithms function in healthcare is becoming increasingly important. With the addition of AI to clinical decision support (CDS) tools, identifying and solving problems leads to more precise and efficient care delivery.
The most common use and application of AI and CDS is within the nursing informatics specialty. As a category within health informatics, nursing informatics combines health informatics concepts with nursing science to “manage and communicate data, information, and knowledge in nursing practice,” according to the Healthcare Informatics HIMSS article. Nursing informatics effectively directs healthcare delivery and nursing practice by using the data, information, knowledge and wisdom (DIKW) framework.
Benefits of Health Informatics to Nurse Leaders
Nurse leaders use health informatics to inform care delivery, identify gaps, communicate important information, manage people, organize data and integrate their wisdom, knowledge and experiences into current nursing practice. Nursing administrators use health informatics daily to ensure safe and effective patient healthcare delivery, advocate for organizational systems, process changes and create innovative ways to improve healthcare delivery.
Nurse administrators benefit from integrating health and nursing informatics concepts into their daily work by:
- Reducing distractions in the clinical environment
- Categorizing/organizing data in the EHR for ease of recall and reporting
- Utilizing administrative programs to streamline operational and payroll processes
- Using technology efficiently to improve processes and staff productivity
Nurse Leaders Informing the Future of Healthcare
The future of healthcare will provide opportunities for nurse leaders to shape all areas of the healthcare system. As technological advancements change how nurses deliver care, the need for passionate, knowledgeable, experienced nurse leaders will continue to grow. Nursing administrators must be ready to adapt to these changes and create a healthcare system that drives innovation and optimizes technology. To achieve this, nurse leaders must continue to enhance their leadership skills, broaden their knowledge and hone their nursing informatics competencies.
As a busy nursing professional, advancing your education through an online advanced degree program is a perfect option. Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program prepares nurses to assume leadership roles such as chief nursing officer (CNO), director of nursing (DoN) and nursing administrator. In addition to the Healthcare Informatics course that helps students gain informatics skills, other relevant coursework focuses on advanced nursing theory, financial responsibility, inclusive practices, organizational and professional development, practical application of research, healthcare policy and advocating for quality and equity in healthcare.
Learn more about Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.