News Feature | May 19, 2016

The Rise Of The CNIO

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Nurse Fired Posting ER Photos

Informatics nurses provide demonstrated high degree of impact on quality of care.

Over the past five years, the number of Chief Nursing Informatics Officers (CNIOs) in health systems has increased with this year seeing more CNIOs in place than ever before. A recent survey commissioned by Witt/Kieffer designed to gain insight into the role found organizations recruiting CNIOs look for candidates with new and expanding capabilities.

“CNIOs finally have ‘a seat at the table,’ and with this growth in credibility and responsibility come challenges, including resistance from organizations to fully embrace and understand the role of clinical IT leadership,” said Chris Wierz, principal in the Information Technology Practice at Witt/Kieffer. “Collaboration is key; savvy CNIOs will form strong partnerships with other IT leaders, the Chief Nursing Officer, and Chief Medical Informatics Officer in order to succeed.”

Nursing informatics is a specialty in nursing that integrates nursing science, computer science, and information science and the role is an expanding one in today’s healthcare organizations. As a field, nursing informatics has been around since the 1960s, becoming more prominent in the 1990s, with the American Nursing Association recognizing it as a discipline in 1992. There are about 3,000 informatics nurses in the U.S. currently participating in HIMSS and other organizations, according to Information Week.

The 2015 HIMSS Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey reveals informatics nurses bring value to the use of clinical systems and technologies at their healthcare organizations. According to the survey, informatics nurses provide the greatest value in the implementation phase (85 percent) and optimization phase (83 percent) of the clinical systems process. The web-based survey polled 576 individuals with a job title of Director or higher, informatics nurse, or clinician between November 17, 2014 and January 24, 2015, Health IT Outcomes reported.

“The 2015 Impact of the Informatics Nurse Survey showcases the positive influence informatics nurses are having on improved quality and efficiency of patient care,” said Joyce Sensmeier, VP of Informatics for HIMSS. “We are going to continue to see the role and use of technology expand in healthcare and the demand for nurses with informatics training will grow in parallel. As clinicians further focus on transforming information into knowledge, technology will be a fundamental enabler of future care delivery models and nursing informatics leaders will be essential to this transformation.”

As the role of informatics nurses grows, particularly under the federal guidance of Meaningful Use and its successors, there will also be a growing need for a new leadership role at the executive table: the CNIO.