Nursing IT leaders grow in volume and value

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The role of nursing IT leaders at provider organizations simultaneously is becoming more high-profile and strategic as the healthcare industry shifts to valuing quality over volume, both executives and consultants believe.

The increased use of electronic health records has been key to that evolution because nurses generally spend more time with patients than any other clinician, says Texas Health Resources Chief Nursing Informatics Officer Mary Beth Mitchell in an article published by Healthcare Informatics.

“Now that we have EHR systems implemented, I’m thinking that the CNIO role is important now more than ever as we try to manage how we use our technology to improve patient care and improve the clinician experience,” Mitchell tells Healthcare Informatics. “One of the things that I work on is how can we make the EHR functionality more predictive and how can we put information at more nurses’ fingertips, so I put a lot of emphasis on interoperability and integration.”

Terri Gocsik, a consultant with the Detroit-based Chartis Group, says that increasing merger-and-acquisition activity also has been key to the increased recognition, as disparate entities come together. 

In an interview with FierceHealthIT in May, Patricia Mook, chief nursing information officer at Falls Church, Virginia-based Inova Health System, called ambulatory medicine and transitions of care essential learning areas for current and future CNIOs. Mook also said that one of the toughest parts of her job is building partnerships in both technology and operational environments.

“To be a success in the world of healthcare today, you have to be a resilient leaders, and being a resilient leader means having good relationships with all disciplines,” she said.

A Witt/Kieffer survey published last month and referenced by the Healthcare Informatics article notes that 51 percent of all respondents indicated that their organizations currently have a CNIO or equivalent position in place. In 2011, the last time Witt/Kieffer conducted such a survey, only 28 percent of respondents said their organizations employed a CNIO.