Nursing Informatics 2.0: It’s All About the Data

By Cheryl D. Parker, PhD, RN-BC, FHIMSS, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, Rubbermaid Medical Solutions and Contributing Faculty, Nursing Informatics, Walden University

In my role as an educator I ponder: what will the future hold for my learners and how can I best prepare and advise them?

Since 1992, when the ANA recognized nursing informatics as a specialty by the ANA, the majority of us have focused our work on implementing systems to electronically capture the mountains of patient care data collected daily in the United States.  And when I say mountains of data, think Himalayas! 

Consider the five data elements of vital signs: pulse, respirations, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and temperature.  If we consider the almost 941,995 staffed inpatient beds in the United States, and we take an extremely conservative estimate that a minimum of four sets of vital signs taken per bed per 24 hours, we suddenly have 18,839,900 data elements collected every single day.  And this is just vital signs data!

When I practiced as an emergency department nurse, we often called for medical records, and they came to us piled in a wheelchair.  Many times, we didn’t have time to cull though and find the nuggets of valuable information that might be contained within.  And often as not, the most recent chart was often “checked out.”  Mountains of data were available, but not the data we needed.

I strongly believe it is critical that we don’t recreate an electronic version of the wheelchair full of charts – tons of stored data but little useful information available to the clinician.

This is where nursing informatics 2.0 comes in.

Who better than informatics nurses to take a leading role in developing the data usage models that will truly get us to meaningful use, because we understand the data context, both at collection and at use.  Informatics nurses can develop this information into knowledge that can be used to better care for each patient and for patient communities, all while supporting workflow,  not impeding it.

As I was preparing this post, I stopped to read the latest issue of HIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights and imagine my surprise – a whole issue on career development and data analytics is top of mind for the contributors!  Cynthia Davis’ Informaticists, It’s Time to Grow Your Analytics Know-How, Lorren Pettit’s Demand for Clinical Intelligence Signals a New Career Path and Charles Boicey and Brian Norris’ Four Ways to Take Informatics to the Next Level.  Were they reading my mind???

Back to my learners, what will they need to study to prepare for Nursing Informatics 2.0?  Is there a need for new programs of study focused on data management, analysis and presentation?  My instincts tell me yes.  What do you think?

Cheryl D. Parker, PhD, RN-BC, FHIMSS, is section editor for HIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights eNewsletter, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, Rubbermaid Medical Solutions and Contributing Faculty, Nursing Informatics, Walden University

About Christel Anderson

Christel Anderson, is HIMSS Director, Clinical Informatics
This entry was posted in Blogging, Health IT Workforce, Jobs, Nursing Informatics, Patient-Centered Systems. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nursing Informatics 2.0: It’s All About the Data

  1. Thanks for the article Christel. I think it will be great when nursing informatics really gets off the ground. I graduated in bioinformatics and now that I’ve seen what the combination of biology and data can do, I think that as far as nursing is concerned, it too should be as ubiquitous as EKG training.

  2. Wendy Walecka, MS, RN says:

    I graduated in Nursing Informatics almost 10 years ago now and I have to say that I am sadly report-deficient. Sure, I tried learning on the job, but after going to classes for various report-writing classes, I ended up needing to retrieve data so infrequently that I basically forgot everything I learned!

    Now with all the various clinical indicators on which we are required to report for NCQA, CQR, PQRS and any other alphabet soup that is out there related to Meaningful Use and improving patient care and patient population management, I would love to learn more and find that it needs to be as integral as database management, systems management (since no one builds a system from scratch any longer) and project management in any informatics course. I , for one, would be interested in learning more.

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