In this post, guest blogger Chris will exam the typical workday and responsibilities of a Clinical Analyst Consultant (also known as an informatics nurse).
Life of a Consultant Clinical Analyst
Use this table of contents to jump to any section.
- My role as a Consultant Clinical Analyst
- Day 1 in the Life of an Informatics Nurse
- Day 2 in Informatics Nursing
- Day 3 as a Clinical Informaticist
I am a registered nurse who worked in the clinical setting for about 10 years. I decided to quit bedside nursing and now work as a clinical analyst consultant. I maintain a blog for entry level candidates seeking to enter the nursing informatics field.
A snapshot of 3 days in my role as a Consultant Clinical Analyst in the nursing informatics department:
One of the projects I was involved in included implementing a surgical solution in a small size hospital with 12 OR beds. This hospital is part of a network of 3 other hospitals, which I’ll call A, B and C. The goal was to move all paper documentation (pre-op, intra-op, post-op) to electronic documentation, implement a new scheduling system, tracking board, and electronic picklist.
Last week we met with the OR department and we did a demo of how the application works, did a walkthrough of the facility, and this week’s goal is to start the design analysis and possibly do some data collection. At the same time, I assist the other 3 hospitals with any issues that might occur.
Day 1 in the Life of an Informatics Nurse
-Arrive at the office, open up emails and get caught up with emails from last week.
-I see two emails marked as urgent. Hospital A is requesting an emergency fix/change to one of their post-op forms. It appears the form is not working properly and their analyst needs help troubleshooting problem.
-The other email marked urgent is hospital B wanting to make some design changes to their forms and they want to see if there will be any downstream impact by their request.
-I quickly type the troubleshooting steps to the analyst at Hospital A and inform him that, if the steps don’t work, to email me back and let me know so that we can set up a time to review the issue
-I let Hospital B know that I’ll take a look at their design changes later on during the day.
-We have a meeting scheduled with the intra-op, pre-op and post-op nurses to review current paper workflow they use to document cases. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to what the proper workflow should be and it seems that the representative sent by the intra-op department that is not well versed in the intra-op workflow. There is a request to meet again with the proper people to make the right decisions. Not a good start for the week nor this project.
-Will discuss the incident with a project manager.
-Meeting with the scheduling department to give a 2nd demo on how the scheduling application works and to answer issues they could raise. The scheduling group believes that the application is too slow and that it doesn’t allow them to track the techs who run equipment. We addressed the slow issue by actually scheduling patients using shortcuts that were not detailed in the previous demo and staff was pleased. Yet, we have to come up with a solution to the tech scheduling tracking issue.
-Back to my desk and check/reply to emails.
-An analyst from hospital A has replied. My steps didn’t fix the issue. He wants to know if there is any chance I can log on to their system today. They have opened a ticket with the vendor already, but most likely the vendor will only get back to them within a couple of days. As I have time later in the afternoon, we set up a meeting at 4 pm.
-Back from lunch. There are strings of emails from the OR group. They seem to be having conflicts scheduling the meeting. The only available date is at the end of the week, which will put the project timeline in jeopardy. Meeting needs to take place asap.
-I write emails to the project manager and site manager to let them know of the situation. In the meantime, my other analyst colleague is trying to get a hold of the OR director to address the scheduling conflict directly with her.
-Head out to meet with the OR manager, but she has an impromptu meeting with a couple of surgeons.
-We decide to hit the cafeteria, get a cappuccino and come back to meet the OR manager.
-We meet with the OR manager. We discuss the timeline and talk about the OR meeting. As the right pre-op personnel didn’t attend, we found ourselves in the impossibility to map the current workflow. OR manager emphasizes that staff is short, whereas we emphasize the project timeline. After going back and forth, we decide that if pre-op doesn’t show up, then intra-op will make decisions for them, and they will fix any issues later. There is a real risk though that they won’t be happy with the documentation, hence the importance to send the right pre-op staff to the meeting. OR manager understands the situation and agrees to schedule a meeting for Wednesday morning with the proper staff.
-Back to my desk, inform hospital B that I won’t be able to look at their design until next day.
-Make sure the presentation is ready for the supply chain meeting the next day.
-Call analyst from Hospital A to assist in troubleshooting the problem. I log on remotely to the system and we go through the basic setup of the form, which looks fine. Then I notice that one of the rules appears to have the wrong logic. I ask to have the rules emailed to me for more analysis.
-Once I get the email with the rules I start analyzing. I reconfigure the rule in the test domain, but after about 30 min of troubleshooting, I’m still getting the error. I decide to go home and give it a try the next day.
Day 2 in Informatics Nursing
-Meet up with the supply chain team. Fortunately, their senior member worked at a different hospital with a similar implementation and she understands the process of the data we need, but we just need to review the workflow to make sure it will actually work. What a relief! We also find out that we can only get the current supplies out of their database in a text file, but some of them will repeat, some others are indistinguishable from facility A to B, and a lot of them are no longer used. No problem, I can transfer the text file to the Access database, remove duplicates, and then try to analyze data to come up with the proper equipment.
-Back at the desk. Check emails again. A lot of meetings seem to be piling up for next week and not sure if I need to attend all.
-Attend project management meeting to discuss timelines and risks to project. So far we are on track, except for the minor delay with the OR team, but that should be ok, as long as we meet with them again during the week.
-Back to desk, check emails, pull up a query from last evening. I go through the logic of the rules again and I realize that I put the wrong operator in one of the statements. Shameful! I test the query again and it works. I page the analyst from hospital A to notify them of the results. He will test it again and then implement.
-I have time to review Hospital’s B design change. I discuss it also with another analyst and we don’t really see downstream effects. But we do notice that it doesn’t follow the standard methodology agreed by all hospitals in the network. The hospital insists that they have a different population of patients. We make our recommendations by email to hospital B.
-Quick lunch at the cafeteria
-Meet with hospital’s B new systems analyst to train her on how to configure and maintain the tracking board.
-Supply chain sent me the first text file of supplies/equipment. I import it into Excel and some of the columns don’t line up. I spend some time fixing that, then create a small access database file to find out duplicates in the file. Then I inspect the resulting data. The same equipment shows up with different naming convention. I email the resulting file to supply chain manager and tell her to look at the highlighted values and inform me of the pattern so that I can further analyze the file.
Day 3 as a Clinical Informaticist
-Arrive at the office, check emails…
-Attend weekly staff meeting
Attend OR meeting. Pre-op sent the right person this time. There are concerns about the workflow of printing out documentation and vital signs. This topic threatens to overtake the meeting. We bring meeting back to getting workflow documented and then we will deal with the printing issue. What we need is to get the current workflow documented on paper so that we can optimize it when moving to the electronic record.
-Back at the desk.
-Hospital C is requesting help with one of their upload files. System crashes any time upload is attempted. The file had been used before, so it can’t be a problem with the file. I figure it must be the data in the file. I start combing through the data and after 30 minutes I determine an empty space was causing the problem. I test file in the test environment and it works. Send fix to hospital C.
-Back at my desk. There’s an email from Supply Chain Manager. She has decoded the highlighted data and now I can work on cleaning out the file with the current supplies. There is also another large text file with more supplies that I will have to clean up in Access.
-I start writing the OR minutes from earlier today. I also get together with the other analyst and we go over the current OR workflow, which looks fairly straightforward. As we had collected the current paper documentation forms, we start analyzing them. We discover some minor redundant documentation and we make a note to clarify the issue in the next meeting. We can actually start building the basic forms in the test domain, but we get word that test domain will be down for maintenance at 16:00
-I continue to break down supply chain files in MS Access.
Note – Informatics nurses go by many names and titles such as clinical informatics specialist, informatics nurse, health informatics nurse, and so on. When trying to find out if this just is right for you, be sure to read the job description as the workload and responsibilities of positions vary.
- What is Nursing Informatics?
- Nursing Informatics Jobs – Have you considered a Career in Informatics Nursing?
- Becoming an Informatics Nurse: Going Beyond the Bedside