Nurse CIOs Are Taking On Bigger Roles In Healthcare

Bob Herman | Modern Healthcare | November 1, 2014

...[M]any hospitals and health systems have hired nurse informaticists.  And technology vendors are engaging nurses with IT backgrounds to help them execute successful EHR installations, knowing that nurses are key users of patient data. This has led to a proliferation of nurse health IT executives, including chief nursing information officers, who are helping shape organizational technology strategies. About 30% of hospitals and health systems now have a CNIO, who, at the biggest organizations, earn an average salary of $200,000 to $250,000.

“Nurses are the biggest users of the EHR and are responsible for a large portion of the documentation that addresses quality measures, safety measures and the overall clinical picture of the patient,” said Patricia Sengstack, president of the American Nursing Informatics Association and CNIO at Bon Secours Health System, based in Marriottsville, Md. “It seems to make sense that they would have a leader at the helm to help drive the optimal use of technology and drive innovation to improve patient care and outcomes.”

But some observers question whether adding a CNIO to the executive roster with a separate chief medical informatics officer adds costs and maintains the separation of nurses and physicians in different silos...Nursing informatics advocates say the difficulty with having one informatics chief is the required level of knowledge for physician and nursing workflows. Instead, systems should strive to have their CNIO and CMIO “connected at the hip,” Sengstack said...