Touted as a way to foster collaboration between HIMSS' career services and the more than 3,500 members of HIMSS' nursing informatics community, the program will strive to address the concerns of nurse informaticists who are playing a greater role in IT projects.
"Many organizations are implementing electronic health records right now and there are many challenges with that," Joyce Sensmeier, vice president of informatics at HIMSS, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "Part of the focus of the informatics nurse is trying to make health IT systems work so that they don't compromise the current workflow of clinicians, which is why nurse informaticists are frequently relied upon to lead IT projects as well as train clinicians and help select the IT systems."
[ Want to know more about e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch.]
Sensmeier observed that these nurses have a unique skill set in that they have been trained to engage and interact with patients on a daily basis, and they also understand where the technology needs to be, how the technology can improve patient outcomes, and what is required to make health IT implementations successful from a clinical perspective.
"I would emphasize that nurse informaticists will make sure that the technology does no harm," Sensmeier said. To get the program underway, HIMSS unveiled a website where a question will be posted each month. Experienced nurse informaticists and other nurse executives who work at hospitals, academic institutions, and IT companies will provide answers. These mentors will share their insights on everything from the best way to manage specific issues that arise during an IT project, to advice on education and training courses that nurses can take to enhance their IT skills and improve their careers in a changing healthcare environment.
"The idea is to have a place where our nursing informatics members can go to for career advice or guidance in terms of the issues that they are wrestling with and to provide a feedback mechanism ..." Sensmeier said.
Helen Figge, senior director of HIMSS career services, told InformationWeek Healthcare that the website will be an invaluable tool to support nurses as they rise to executive positions in healthcare organizations. She also said the website is one of many initiatives and that they plan other mentoring opportunities in the future, including face-to-face meetings, webinars, and seminars that will help nurse informaticists exchange ideas.
"The eNurse mentoring program is a way to raise the level of thought and conversation among nurse informaticists who often talk to the CIO and other C-suite executives.... [T]heir experience and advice on clinical workflow and health IT is vital to the success of healthcare reform," Figge said.
Last year, HIMSS published its Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, which found that nurse informaticists are playing a greater role in IT project development. Systems implementation was listed as the primary job responsibility by 57% of respondents, versus 45% in 2007.
The survey also found that 77% of respondents were included with clinical documentation projects, and 62% with electronic medical records (EMR) or electronic health records (EHR), which was not listed in the top three in 2007. Other systems listed were computerized physician order entry (CPOE) at 60%, and clinical information systems at 58%.
HIMSS also recently released a position statement in which the organization encouraged the public and private sector to create initiatives that will foster the ability of nurses to better integrate health IT into clinical care.
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