Sixty-one percent of provider respondents in a new survey report having a formal clinical informatics program in place, and the rate of reliance on clinical informaticists is growing.

Providers increasingly see clinical informatics as a way to better understand how to use data to support coordinated, efficient and high quality care under accountable care organizations and other emerging delivery and reimbursement models, according to the survey.

The Health Research Institute of consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an online survey of 600 executives from provider, insurance and pharmaceutical organizations from late October to early December 2011, and conducted 30 in-depth telephone interviews with CIOs

Surveyed insurers were right behind providers with 59 percent reporting a clinical informatics program, but only one-third of pharmaceutical firms had a program, as many want to distance themselves from individual patient level clinical data, among other factors, according to the survey.

Forty-five percent of surveyed providers have a chief medical informatics officer leading the initiative. Fifty-eight percent employ nurse informaticists, up from 42 percent in 2010, and 47 percent employ other non-physician informaticists, compared with 31 percent in 2010.

“But over the next two years, more providers expect to shift their hiring focus to non-clinical technical professionals, including general data analysts,” according to a new report on survey results. “This finding points toward a continued focus on the technical aspects of EHR implementation, data integration and interoperability. Also, half of provider respondents cited alignment of clinical and technology teams as an organizational barrier, something they will need to address to incorporate their sophisticated analytics into clinicians’ everyday work.”

The report, “Needles in a haystack: Seeking knowledge with clinical informatics,” is available here.

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