The chief nursing informatics officer (CNIO) is poised to play a key role in bridging clinical care with health care IT systems.
the health care industry looks to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and
take advantage of 'meaningful-use'
incentives, one position often overlooked but growing in importance is
the chief nursing informatics officer (CNIO).
CNIO helps to bridge the role of clinicians and the implementation of health
care IT systems, Toni
Hebda, a professor in the nursing
informatics master's program at the Chamberlain College of Nursing, in Downers
Grove, Ill., told eWEEK
the 2009 Health Information
Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act providing incentives
for meaningful use of EHRs, the CNIO is charged with making sure hospitals are
prepared to satisfy the federal government's mandate, said Hebda.
informatics involves a combination of clinical
tasks with health care IT systems as well as financial reporting and
collaborative data sharing. A March
by PwC's U.S. Health Research Institute found that health care
organizations consider clinical informatics key to boosting patient care.
doctors' needs are often considered in health care IT, a primary role for CNIOs
is to manage the workflow requirements of nurses, Mary Beth Mitchell, CNIO at
Texas Health Resources, told Healthcare IT News.
In Hebda's view, "the CNIO helps to ensure that systems are
better designed for how clinicians work."
Like clinical informatics, nursing informatics combines the work
of clinicians with technology. Clinical informatics might not involve analysis
of radiology or lab reports, however, said Hebda.
"In the past, nursing informatics was somewhat
overlooked," she said. "We
still have people that don't know what it is, but we are gaining in terms of
foundation called the Technology
Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER) Initiative
exists to encourage
use of informatics to make health care safer and more effective.
Hospitals and academic medical centers are adopting the CNIO
position according to a recent presentation by Linda Hodges, senior
vice president and leader of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer's Information
Technology Practice, and Chris Wierz, service line executive, Encore Health Resources,
at the Health Information
and Management Systems Society's conference (HIMSS12) in February.
Still, growth of the CNIO role is slow, a recent study called
"Emerging Role of the CNIO" by Witt/Kieffer
revealed. The study found that only 17 percent of health care organizations
plan to hire a CNIO in the next 12-24 months.
"Originally if you had a health care professional
designated as informatics officer, it was usually a physician, which is no
surprise because of the political clout, but in terms of numbers, nurses are
the predominant health care group most closely aligned with what's going on
with the patient and the use of the clinical information systems," said
According to the PwC report, 58 percent of health care organizations
surveyed had a chief medical informatics officer (typically a doctor) while 58
percent had nurse informaticists and 13 percent had CNIOs.
Though growth in the position is slow, the CNIO is increasingly taking
on a critical role in health care now because physicians were in the past
hesitant to spend the time to learn the information systems, said Hebda.
In addition, 57 percent of health care
organizations said that outlining a nursing strategy for IT is the main role of
the CNIO, according to the Witt/Kieffer study.
CNIOs also use health care IT software for order entry and documenting
patient medical narratives.
"If we don't document well, it can make the difference in
terms of whether reimbursement occurs," said Hebda.
position sometimes overlaps with that of the CIO and could be synonymous with a
nursing informatics executive leader, according to Hebda.
both clinicians and consumers adopt high-speed data networks, wireless
connectivity, mobile devices and exchange health information, nurses will play
a role in implementing this technology and interacting with patients, according
to a report by the American Organization of
informatics professionals are key liaisons to successful interactions between
practice, technology and patients," AONE stated.