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3/11/2011
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Nurses With IT Skills Growing In Importance

As technology plays a larger role in the healthcare setting, nurse informaticists see increasing demand, responsibility, and compensation, finds HIMSS study.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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As healthcare delivery organizations accelerate the adoption of health IT, a growing number of nurses are acquiring technology skills to meet the demands of a changing healthcare model.

According to the 2011 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, nursing informatics -- a hybrid career combining nursing and healthcare IT skills -- is growing in importance and impact.

Published last month, the survey relied on interviews with 660 nurse informaticists and compared results from polls conducted in 2004, 2007, and 2011 to track changes in the career first officially identified by the American Nurses Association in 1992.

Figures from the survey show that nearly two-fifths (39%) reported they have been nurse informaticists for 10 years or more, compared to 33% in 2007. Additionally, 37% have titles that identify their position as a nurse informaticist, up from one-third in the last survey.

Informatics nurses are also 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. Systems development followed at 53%, compared to 41% three years ago.

Regarding types of systems they are participating in developing, 77% named clinical documentation, and 62% said electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR), which was not listed in the top three in 2007. Also listed were computerized physician order entry (CPOE), at 60%, and clinical information systems at 58%.

The profession has also seen an increase in compensation. The average salary in the 2011 survey was reported to be $98,703, an increase of 17% from 2007, and 42% from 2004.

Other findings of the survey revealed that:

-- Almost half (46%) have 16 years or more of clinical experience and another 20% had 11 to 15 years.

-- Regarding nursing background, 44% specialized in critical care and 43% worked on the medical/surgical floor.

-- In education, 56% of respondents in 2011 have post-graduate degrees, compared to 52% in 2007. In this year's poll, 35% of respondents have a master's degree in nursing.

-- In 2011, 52% said they report to the IT department, 32% to nursing, and 22% to administration. In 2007, 38% said they reported to the nursing department and 17% to administration, reflecting a shift toward administration and away from nursing.

-- Nurse informaticists see lack of integration between healthcare IT systems as the biggest barrier to their success. Previously, lack of funding was identified as the main barrier.

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