Understanding The Nursing Informatics Analyst Role

In this post, we’re going to take a look at what it means to be a nursing informatics analyst, and list and define the key responsibilities for this role.

The first thing that I would like to clarify is that I’ve been working in the field of nursing informatics for the past 8 years and, as I have explained in other posts, I’m yet to hold a position with the title of “nursing informatics analyst”.

In the nursing informatics departments I have practiced so far, my role has been many a time simply defined as “clinical analyst”, or variations of this title, such as “clinical consultant”, “systems analyst”, etc.

This is probably because when I started in the profession, the term “nursing informatics” wasn’t as popular. I remember typing the term “nursing informatics” in the monster job search box back in 2005, and the search turned up 2 jobs only.

Nowadays the term “nursing informatics” has become more popular, but many jobs are still being listed under other titles.

Key Responsabilities of a Nursing Informatics Analyst

The responsibilities listed below are synthesis from many jobs I have held in the past. In my opinion, they summarize the essential responsibilities a nursing informatics analyst has:nursing informatics analyst

  • Serves as a clinical liaison between IT, Department of Nursing, Informatics Department, Physicians, and any Ancillary Departments or Personnel involved with a clinical applications system
  • Documents current clinical processes to establish a baseline for developmental improvements of future workflows, and recommends and assists with implementation of new or improved workflows in clinical applications
  • Participates in interdisciplinary and process improvement teams to identify potential new uses for the information systems
  • Plans, develops, configures, implements, tests, evaluates and supports the clinical information systems application
  • Coordinates any necessary enhancements or upgrades to the clinical information systems application
  • Plans, develops, and provide ongoing education for physicians and staff.

Also, keep in mind that depending on the role, the nursing informatics professional may also take on more senior-level activities such as planning the clinical analysis activities, managing requirements, and even managing a project from start to finish.

Dissecting The Responsibilities Of A Nursing Informatics Analyst

The job responsibilities listed above might actually require a full post of their own, but I highly doubt that anybody wants to read all the technicalities involved in the job, so instead, I’ll try to give a quick rundown of what each responsibility entails.

Clinical Liaison: As a nursing informatics analyst, you will meet with all different types of teams to discuss the implementation of a project.

It is worth mentioning here also that most hospitals have two separate departments: and IT department, and an Informatics department, and as part of your role, you will have to communicate with different players in the IT department to get your job done.

For example, Physicians are going live on a new clinical application. You will have to meet with the IT folks to determine the specifications needed for the hardware, possible network configuration to allow Doctors access to the application, and obviously you will also meet with the Physicians to discuss the project.

Clinical Process and Workflow Documentation: When a clinical application or functionality of an application needs to be implemented, the analyst first needs to map out how a clinical process is done, so that a workflow can be developed on how this clinical application or functionality will be made live for the clinical users.

To picture this, assume that there is a team of pressure ulcer nurses in the hospital that now want to document their wound assessments electronically.

As an analyst, and with the help of these clinicians, you will  figure out the best way to implement this on the clinical application, and to do so, you map out the steps that it takes to trigger the nurse to perform a wound pressure assessment.

Once you have the steps mapped out, your knowledge of the  clinical system will lead you to recommend ways on how the nurses can implement this functionality.

System Implementation: This combines many steps. You take the requirement gathered in the workflow analysis phase, and then you configure the clinical application system according to these requirements.

Once you have the application configured, you test it, you then train the users, and finally you have a go-live so the users can use this application.

If you want to read more about these steps, I wrote more on this topic here.

Upgrades and Enhancements: Clinical application systems are always being updated. Old functionalities are improved. New functionalities are created. And even some functionalities are discarded.

Many times as an analyst you will have to take modify an existing workflow in an application based on these upgrades or enhancements.

Also, if an application is upgraded, you will have to make sure that older workflows still work with the new upgrade and if they don’t, then they need to be re-configured, and also, when new upgrades come out, some hospitals, to stay on the leading edge, will want to re-do their older implementations to take advantage of the latest upgrades.

Other hospitals however, will take the approach of, “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Training: When a clinical application is built, or even when a new functionality is built or reconfigured, users are trained.

Also, if you’re working with other analysts, you can train them on how to build specific parts of the application to either help out, or to have a back up in place when you’re not in the office.

Nursing Informatics Analyst Roles Can Vary Widely

The complexity of maintaining clinical applications allows for many opportunities to the Nursing Informatics Analyst role.

It gives analysts the chance to work on clinical application analysis/configuration/support, logistics, testing, training, project management, and other leadership roles.

This variety of responsibilities means that a person can start in a role that has all types of responsibilities, and as he or she get more experience in the field,  this person can choose to work in a role that focuses on a specific part of the project.

For example, an analyst might start in a role that does is involved in all aspects of a project, but then this person might decide that they only want to do training, and as a result, the specific position of trainer can be obtained.

Thus, even though the roles of a Nursing Informatics Analyst can vary, at the core they solve problems and help bridge the gap between information systems and nursing.

Chris (25 Posts)

Chris Smith works as a clinical analyst consultant with 9 years of experience working in the nursing informatics field. He started this blog to help others learn more about nursing informatics because he got tired of reading a lot of misinformation about this field on the web. You can connect with Chris on Google+

2 Responses to Understanding The Nursing Informatics Analyst Role

  • Pam says:

    Where would a person look to do a practicum in the nursing informatics field?

    • admin says:

      Usually at the place you work, otherwise you have to find hospitals close to you where you will have to meet managers and see if they will set up a practicum.

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