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Carolinas HealthCare System Welcomes its First Chief Nurse Informatics Officer

 “I look forward to learning from and contributing to Carolinas HealthCare System communities as we all leverage new technology and processes to achieve patient care excellence."

Nancy A. Olson
Chief Nurse Informatics Officer
Carolinas HealthCare System

Carolinas HealthCare System has named Nancy A. Olson, RN-BC, BSN, MBA, PhD, as the system’s first Chief Nurse Informatics Officer (CNIO). This new role will lead the integration of clinical nursing and advancements in information technology (IT) in healthcare settings.

Olson is a senior nursing informatics executive with more than 20 years of experience leading strategic plans with transformational results at large, integrated health systems. Her background is in nursing, patient care, and healthcare management, with eight years of recent experience in enterprise clinical informatics initiatives. Olson has been board-certified by the American Nursing Credentialing Center.

“Serving the clinical team across the continuum of care in a senior leadership role is an outstanding opportunity, and to fulfill this opportunity at one of the nation’s top tier healthcare systems is a career highlight,” Olson said. “I look forward to learning from and contributing to Carolinas HealthCare System communities as we all leverage new technology and processes to achieve patient care excellence."

Combining Clinical Knowledge and Technology

The Chief Medical Information Officer role emerged two decades ago to help hospitals support the adoption and implementation of health technologies like electronic medical records (EMR). Today, the CNIO role is emerging to help hospitals and healthcare systems roll out meaningful use, a set of standards defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services incentive programs that govern the use of EMRs and incentive payments. Other health organizations with a CNIO include The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Texas Health Resources and UNC Health Care.

“Chief nursing informatics officers can speak for the bedside clinicians and can understand the importance of linking that clinical knowledge with enabling technology,” Carolinas HealthCare System Executive Nurse and Senior Vice President Mary Ann Wilcox, MS, RNC, NEA-BC, said. “Like other healthcare systems, we are looking to simplify and optimize our clinical records to tell a more comprehensive, accurate patient story. We want to ensure that all providers have the information and tools they need to deliver the highest quality care across the continuum.”

Improving Patient Care

At Carolinas HealthCare System, Olson will enhance and standardize EMR clinical workflows, improving the way nurses input patient data and optimize the technology solutions that enable patient care excellence. Olson will also help coordinate better strategic and organizational health IT use and develop a governance structure that will help nurses across the System speak the same language as it relates to healthcare informatics. Carolinas HealthCare System’s EMR carries the records of more than 10 million patients. From orders and notes to lab and test results, a patient’s full history – from the doctor’s office to a hospital stay – is in one record.

As the unique skillset of CNIOs grows in demand in hospitals nationwide, three nursing schools associated with Carolinas HealthCare System are preparing students to fill those needs. The Cabarrus College of Health Sciences weaves nursing informatics through the entire associate and baccalaureate degree nursing curricula.

The bachelor’s degree program also offers a nursing informatics course that may be taken on a non-degree basis for registered nurses seeking to update their skillsets. Mercy School of Nursing and Carolinas College of Health Sciences, a nationally top-ranked college, both embed clinical informatics across two-year nursing program curricula. Similarly, the System’s master’s degree programs in nurse anesthesia and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (offered with UNC-Charlotte), teach a higher level of nursing informatics imbedded across the curriculum.

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