One informatics leader told Parker that, prior to COVID-19, her organization had an average of 150 weekly telehealth visits — and now handles 10,000 visits each week.
“Too many patients and providers are in love with telehealth,” Parker says. “There’s no going back.” The CNIO, then, will have to help an organization standardize this shift — for instance, by implementing drive-through lab tests.
Chief Nursing Informatics Officers Grow in Number and Influence
Response to a global health emergency has shined a spotlight on the CNIO, but the informaticist role has been steadily gaining in importance for more than 25 years.
The nursing informatics discipline was first recognized by the American Nurses Association in 1992. Back then, informaticists focused mostly on implementing electronic health records and making the technology work for clinicians.
“Clinicians were needed who understood both the technological and clinical components and could serve as interpreters, because there was a big communication gap between the clinicians and the technologists and engineers,” Parker says.
As EHR systems became standard — more than 95 percent of hospitals now have EHRs — technology and data became more integral to care delivery. The need grew for executive informaticists who could communicate with other executives about technology implementation and the organizational changes it required.
“It became apparent we needed a senior informatics nurse specialist at the executive table for their depth of understanding and experience,” Parker says. “Because if that person wasn’t at the planning and strategizing stages, comprehensive decisions were more difficult.”