Dr Helen Almond FAIDH
Senior Lecturer, Australian Institute of Health Service Management, College of Business and Economics (COBE), University of Tasmania
For more than 25 years, the informaticist role has been steadily evolving and growing in importance. Healthcare organisations have undergone significant change in recent years, including the need to incorporate an increasing range of technological advances into their day-to-day operations.
Without a doubt, innovations such as clinical information system digitalisation, population health, big data, and precision medicine are reshaping the current health and care landscape (Ellis, 2018). These advancements are also changing the role of chief information officers (CIOs); those individuals in charge of ensuring the safe and secure implementation of technology in the workplace and must adapt to new demands and challenges posed by the health and care workforce and users. The majority of large healthcare organisations have finished implementing electronic medical records (EMRs). The next challenge for CIOs and their immediate teams is to ensure that EMRs are fully utilised (Ellis, 2018).
CNMIOs (chief nursing and midwifery information officers) provide expert clinical leadership as well as a critical link between digital health and organisational change. However, because of the CNMIO’s reliance on data, the CNMIO must be wary of documentation overload. The amount of information that the nursing and midwifery workforce is required to document has grown exponentially since the implementation of EMRs. The CNMIO should determine and advocate for the bare minimum of documentation required to reduce paperwork while ensuring safety and quality and meeting regulatory and accreditation requirements (Parsi, 2020).
The development of meaningful metrics to assess technology’s impact on nursing and midwifery practise through the establishment of comprehensive nursing and midwifery informatics programmes is the next opportunity for these executive nursing and midwifery informaticians. CNMIOs have the capability to use best practice nursing and midwifery techniques, as well as technology, to quantify the value of nursing and midwifery in improving health and care outcomes.
As leaders who combine nursing expertise with clinical information technology knowledge, CNMIOs assume the role of IT-enabled process engineers within highly complex health systems (The CNIO as Chief Change Agent, 2018). This expertise is particularly important considering the increasing range of non-standardized electronic medical records (EMRs), data systems, technologies, and apps. CNMIOs understand that good governance, particularly clinical governance, is required for system and process consistency. CNMIOs can add value by continuously monitoring how new practices surrounding documentation, are implemented, and optimised to support person-centred care. The CNMIO works in concert with IT to identify and prioritise systemic change aiming to achieve efficiencies and meet the needs of clinicians more broadly. CNMIOs can have most impact when they are supported to grow data analytics capability and bring these insights to nursing and midwifery workforce, enabling them to derive information (The CNIO as Chief Change Agent, 2018).
CNMIOs are well-positioned to be change agents within their respective health and care organisations. This is due to their knowledge and experience with digital health transformation, as well as their leadership skills that allow for relationship building. Review of Leading Digital Health Transformation: The Value of Chief Nursing Information Officer (CNIO) Roles (2019) CNIO/CNMIO can facilitate this transformation ensuring potential benefits by
- acting as a liaison between technical and clinical aspects of health and/or care
- ensuring that clinical information and workflow requirements for nursing and midwifery are met
- addressing adverse events for health and care users at the system level to ensure the safety of care for all
- increasing informatics and clinical analytics capacity across the health and care workforce
- driving care and workflow transformation to deliver the National Digital Health Strategy
Like the informaticist 25 years ago, the CNMIO continues to act as a liaison between clinical and technical personnel, advocating for the ethical application of technologies to ensure privacy and security principles, as well as equity and access to quality healthcare. The CNMIO interprets and comprehends technology’s ethical implications, as well as its effects on clinical workflows, care delivery, and service evolution. CNMIOs work in strategic innovation discussions as strategy interpreters; they speak the languages of nursing, midwifery, and informatics.
- Ellis, L. (2018). The Changing Role of Health IT Leaders: Positioning for Success Moving Forward | Executive and Continuing Professional Education | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health [VIEW ONLINE]
- Leading digital health transformation: The value of chief nursing information officer (CNIO) roles. (2019). In Australian College of Nursing. [VIEW ONLINE]
- Parsi, N. (2020, May). What Is a Chief Nursing Informatics Officer? Technology Solutions That Drive Healthcare [VIEW ONLINE]
- The CNIO as Chief Change Agent. (2018). www.wolterskluwer.com. [VIEW ONLINE]