Survey: Despite increase in CNIOs, respect remains elusive

Table with chairs around it

While a growing number of provider organizations have either hired or plan to hire a chief nursing informatics officer, a new survey finds that respect and understanding for the position remains elusive.

A hundred hospital and health system executives--including chief nursing officers, CNIOs and CIOs--shared their thoughts on both the growth and the responsibilities of the CNIO position for the survey, part of a report (.pdf) published this month by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer.

When it comes to growth, 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.

What’s more, the number of respondents who said their organizations plan to hire a CNIO in the next 12 to 24 months increased from 17 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2016.  

And while 76 percent of respondents say they have no plans to hire a CNIO, many of those executives indicated that they either already had a CNIO in place or that the organization has started the “initial exploration” for such a move.

Still, when asked if the CNIO role was “understood and respected” within their organizations, 57 percent of respondents said that it was not.

“Fortunately, nurses are teachers as well as caregivers,” said report co-authors Patricia Mook, Kimberly Krakowski and Chris Wierz. Mook serves as CNIO at Falls Church, Virginia-based Inova Health System, while Krakowski serves as Inova's associate CNIO. Wierz is principal and co-leader of Witt/Kieffer's IT practice. 

“They focus on the opportunity to explain the importance of the role, and they figure out how to accomplish their goals," the authors continue. "From great understanding, it is hoped, respect will follow.”

Mook, in an interview with FierceHealthIT last May, pointed to ambulatory medicine and transitions of care as key learning areas for current and future CNIOs. According to the survey, 78 percent of respondents say that electronic health record and clinical IT system implementation and optimization is a primary task for CNIOs. Sixty-eight percent of respondents call organizational education regarding technology-related nursing the CNIO’s primary task.