3 Areas of Focus for Nursing Informatics Competencies_608x320-1018676898

3 Areas of Focus for Nursing Informatics Competencies

June 9, 2021
June 9, 2021

Nursing Informatics is an area of nursing seeing a great deal of growth and receiving much attention. According to HIMSS, the American Nurses Association defines nursing informatics as "the specialty that integrates nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage and communicate data, information, knowledge and wisdom in nursing practice." In addition to general nurse competencies, which we have discussed previously from a subjective and training direction, there are three areas where nurse informaticists need to focus their competency development efforts—1. computer skills, 2. informatics knowledge, and 3. informatics skills & application. This blog post intends to explain the importance of the nursing informatics competencies and connect them to how they can ultimately lead to better patient care, lower readmission rates, and support an overall sense of job fulfillment by the nurses who excel at informatics.

Computer Skills

HIMSS tells us that at its heart nursing informatics is focused on "the use of technology and computer systems [that] can facilitate nursing care and support educational resources for nursing studies." This field underscores how the use of information technology has become "a critical part of our health care industry and requires healthcare providers to have basic computer knowledge, as well as informatics competencies, to manage and use technology to deliver care." Developing computer skills connects informatics nurses to the future of healthcare.

Informatics Knowledge

Research in the Global Journal of Health Science states that competence in informatics knowledge involves "recognition of the use or importance of nursing data for improving practice, and the recognition of the fact that the computer can only facilitate nursing care." In addition, this knowledge supports the frank understanding of such subjects as "human functions that cannot be performed by computers, the formulation of ethical decisions in computing, the recognition of the value of clinicians' involvement in the design, selection, implementation, and evaluation of systems in health care, the description of the present manual systems, the definition of the impact of computerized information management on the role of the nurse and the determination of the limitations and the reliability of computerized patient monitoring systems."

Informatics Skills and How to Apply Them

According to the University of Illinois Chicago, the following five informatics skills are vital for success in achieving better organizational, patient, and personal outcomes:

Interpersonal Skills: Healthcare usually requires teamwork and collaboration, which benefit when staff members are skilled at "conflict resolution, flexibility, empathy and teamwork."

Problem Solving Ability: Informatics can involve "clinical challenges, such as improving the sharing of patient data between providers or… information technology processes that need to be improved." Success may depend on "your ability to compromise and reach consensus while working with a multidisciplinary team."

Programming Knowledge: For nurses, computer programming "may give you an advantage over your competition and broaden" professional options in the informatics field, especially if staff wants to have an important role in efforts to "build information systems for healthcare organizations."

Communication Skills: The ability to communicate effectively "is particularly important for success in the field of health informatics." Furthermore, "the ability to break down and explain this information to those from various disciplines in a way they all can understand is critical. Keep in mind that communicating is not just speaking. It also involves listening."

Ability to Work with Health Data Systems: Using health data systems and electronic health records is vital for achieving better outcomes in today's healthcare environment. Because "best practices in the effective utilization of information technology applications are constantly evolving," informatics professionals must constantly work to improve their understanding in this area.

Ultimately, the work of nursing informatics is complex. Professionals need to be technologically adept, have significant foundational knowledge about how their field benefits care, and then be able to practice and apply it for better outcomes. Importantly, they need to be able to balance their reliance on tools with their own understanding and decision-making ability. When focusing on the informatics competencies for nurses, professionals in this area can understand both the potential and limitation of their tools in such important goals as reducing readmissions and improved patient safety, allowing them to tap into a higher level of professional satisfaction.

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