Informatics professionals use technology (such as electronic health records, mobile devices, and wearables) to gather and analyze clinical data and information that facilitates clinical knowledge development.
Characteristics needed. Informaticians (sometimes referred to as informaticists) are detail oriented. They must be able to work in teams, manage projects, analyze clinical workflows and processes, and write specifications and requirements for new solutions. In addition, they should have a deep knowledge of software, hardware, and network capabilities. Many informaticians use divergent thinking patterns to envision future informatics and information technology healthcare needs.
Rewards. This role provides the opportunity to work with many different healthcare professionals and organizations, vendors, payors, and clinical information systems. Informaticians also are authors, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
Challenges. Most people aren’t eager for systems change, so one of the biggest challenges is establishing strong, collaborative relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Informaticians must take time to listen to others’ concerns, clinical needs, and workflow process expectations. When informaticians form that relationship early, they can facilitate a team that works effectively toward a collective goal.
Education requirements. Education requirements depend on the informatics role. Nurses who are interested in informatics can start by serving as a super user, subject matter expert, or informatics practice council member because these roles don’t require any additional education. However, most organizations prefer nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree in informatics for senior leadership positions.
Professional associations. Professional informatics associations include the American Medical Informatics Association, American Nursing Informatics Association, Alliance for Nursing Informatics, and Health Information Management Systems Society. Many of them offer excellent education programs.
Bottom line. “As an informaticist, I spend my days solving problems and addressing the needs of clinicians to the extent possible within the capabilities of clinical information systems.”
Tiffany Kelley is the DeLuca Foundation Visiting Professor for Innovation & New Knowledge at UCONN School of Nursing in Storrs, Connecticut, and founder/CEO of Nightingale Apps & iCare Nursing Solutions in Boston.