Informatics

What is Nursing Informatics?

Care provider working on a tablet in a hospital

We're often asked to explain what nursing informatics is. While it's difficult to quickly summarize this complex field, at its core, it takes the clinical and the technical languages of health and translates them into one. It also promotes meaningful, user-friendly and patient-centric innovation while driving improved outcomes for patients and enhanced clinical workflows for healthcare staff.

What is Nursing Informatics Definition?

The definition provided by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and recommended by HIMSS has become widely referenced in response to the question, “What is nursing informatics?”

Nursing informatics "is 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."

As a global advisor and thought leader in healthcare information and technology, HIMSS has focused on this professional field for decades. Understanding the integral role this specialty plays today in the healthcare workforce, we’ve worked to amplify awareness by convening the experts and conducting extensive research on the topic.

What Are Nursing Informatics Roles and Requirements?

If you’re looking to venture into this field of informatics, there are a variety of different skills and qualifications that can help ensure your success:

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), at minimum
  • A master’s degree and certifications, particularly for executive roles (chief nursing informatics officer)
  • Experience and/or strong understanding of working in a clinical setting 
  • Strong technical skills; ability to quickly adapt to emerging technologies and innovation
  • Strong project management skills
  • An affinity for obtaining, analyzing and strategizing about data
  • Understanding of medical economics
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Leadership experience

Here are a few of the many job titles in use today:

  • Nurse informaticist
  • Nursing informatics specialist
  • Nursing informatics clinician
  • Clinical nurse informatics specialist
  • Chief nursing informatics officer
  • Perioperative informatics nurse

The field of nursing informatics has helped drive healthcare’s application of technologies such as EMRs and computerized provider order entry. Nursing informatics professionals work with a diverse group of stakeholders across the care continuum, ultimately helping to bridge the gap between clinical and technical perspectives. Their number one priority is maintaining focus on patient safety.

This role was included in the top 15 highest paying nursing professions in the U.S. The HIMSS Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey, led by the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Committee, unveiled a multitude of findings about the profession:

  • Over two-thirds (68%) of the 1,359 survey respondents work for a hospital or multifacility health system
  • Ambulatory nurse informaticists are on the rise, with 6% of respondents reporting the ambulatory environment as their primary work place
  • The percentage of respondents (66%) who have a master’s degree in nursing (24%), nursing informatics (27%), or some other field (11%) has gone up
  • The role of chief nursing informatics officer/senior nursing informatics officer continues to be on the rise with 41% of respondents reporting that their organization had the formal role

Overall, the results of the survey indicated that most professionals are burning bright with potential. After all, these findings confirm that many make higher wages than the average nursing professional, they enjoy the work they do, and many of them plan to keep doing it in the future.

What is Nursing Informatics Value?

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Nursing informatics specialists are the translators that have evolved into health tech innovators who establish businesses, manage medical economics, create technology and amplify the voice of end-user clinicians,” said Danielle Siarri, MSN, RN, a HIMSS member and social media ambassador, global nursing expert and the lead publisher at InnoNurse. “Healthcare and technology were separate entities that have now fused into one language which evolves daily.”

Nursing informatics professionals are unique, hybrid heroes of healthcare. As advocates for impactful innovation, their work keeps patients safe and at the center. Through their contributions and guidance, workflows are improved for healthcare staff and best practices followed in the effective management of information structures, processes and technology.

Through consistent leadership and hard work, the dynamic language and energy of health information and technology continues to grow and evolve along with the nursing informatics profession.

Empowering Nursing Informatics Professionals

National Nurses Week

HIMSS joins the American Nurses Association and the Alliance for Nursing Informatics and numerous other partners in celebrating National Nurses Week each May. The purpose of this week-long celebration is to raise awareness of the value of nursing and help educate the public about the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. Join us in celebrating the nurses of our nation, who are at the forefront of improving patient care and transforming healthcare.

Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI)

Powered by the HIMSS Foundation and the HIMSS Nursing Informatics Community, the OJNI is a free, international, peer-reviewed publication that is published three times a year and supports all functional areas of the field. The journal was launched in 1996, with readership spanning over 49 countries.

Alliance for Nursing Informatics (ANI)

ANI represents thousands of nurses and brings together nursing informatics groups that function separately at local, regional, national and international levels. ANI is a collaboration of organizations that represent a unified voice for nursing informatics and provides the synergy and structure needed to advance the efforts of nursing informatics professionals in improving the delivery of patient care.

Identifying for a Unique Nurse Identifier

While nurses are making a difference in patients’ health outcomes, without a nurse identifier, which is a unique numeric identifier automatically generated for each RN at the time of their state board exam, health systems have no way of demonstrating the full value of nursing.

It is a free, unique identifier, publicly available, that is automatically generated for each RN and LPN at the time of their NCLEX exam. No additional action is needed. The workgroup recommends that the NCSBN ID should be used by key stakeholders as the unique nurse identifier to enable identification and demonstration of the value of nurses through documentation in the EHR and other health IT systems.

Change Management Infographic

Formed within the HIMSS CNO-CNIO Vendor Roundtable, the infographic was created with a purpose to realize the value of the health IT investment, achieve benefits and sustainable transformation required for an organizational change management approach, as well as ongoing organization/vendor relationships for continued innovation for leaders across the healthcare spectrum.

CNIO Job Description

As the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO) role varies within healthcare organizations, it is essential to have a standardized job description that can be referenced for needed competencies regardless of specific job title. This document provides recommendations for a C-Suite level CNIO job description including qualifications and Experience, Key Responsibilities, and Reporting Structure.

The TIGER Initiative

TIGER (Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform) is a grassroots initiative focused on education reform, fostering interprofessional community development and global workforce development. The spirit of TIGER is to maximize the integration of technology and informatics into seamless practice, education and research resource development.

Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

The World Health Organization declared this the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Our Nursing Informatics Community and supporters are coming together to celebrate the tireless and inspiring work of nurses around the world, today, this year and beyond.

Join Us

Originally published May 14, 2019, updated March 25, 2021