Clinical Analyst vs Clinical Informatics Nurse

Even though I had written a post about the difference between nursing informatics and clinical informatics in the past, I’m still getting a lot of questions about the difference between a Clinical Analyst and a Clinical Informatics Nurse.

This post is my second effort to try to explain the diffences between these titles.

What Is A Clinical Analyst?

Simply defined, a Clinical Analyst is someone who maintains, supports, and possibly develops a clinical software application.

A clinical software application is any application that is utilized in a health care setting to facilitate the work of a clinician.

There are tons of clinical applications out there:

The software used to schedule a surgery appointment can be considered a clinical application.

The software used to enter vital signs at a doctor’s office or in a hospital is a clinical application.

The software used to assess a rehab patient is a clinical application.

In fact, there as many different clinical applications out there as there are different types of clinicians in the healthcare field.

Clinical Analyst vs Clinical Informatics Nurse

As can be inferred from the section above, a Clinical Informatics Nurse is someone who has nursing experience and works with a clinical software application.

Furthermore, a Clinical Informatics Nurse can be at the same time a Clinical Analyst because a clinical analyst is just a generic name given to somebody who works with a clinical application.

However, a Clinical Analyst is not always a Clinical Informatics Nurse, since a Clinical Analyst can be any clinician other than a nurse, working with a clinical software application.

In other words, any clinician working with a software application can have the title of “Clinical Analyst.”

Non-Clinicians Can Be Clinical Analysts

You don’t have to be a clinician or have healthcare experience to be considered a Clinical Analyst.

Many times an employer like a hospital, will call a person who interacts with a clinical software application a Clinical Analyst.

A quick example of this is somebody who extracts data to write reports from a clinical application.

This employee could possibly only have IT experience in writing SQL reports, but because he/she is interacting with a clinical application, the title might also be, Clinical Analyst, or Clinical Analyst Report Writer, etc.  The classification of the job title is always up to the employer.

Thus again, the difference between a Clinical Analyst and a Clinical Informatics Nurse is that the Clinical Analyst does not necessarily have to have a nursing degree or, for that matter, a clinical degree.

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Clinical Analyst

One of the main roles of a clinical analyts is to be involved from one to all states of a project implementation.
I briefly covered these stages in my post, what is nursing informatics, and you can read the post to get an idea what happens in each stage of the project.

Other responsibilities of a clinical analyst include and are not limited to:

  • Serving as a clinical liaison between the clinical and technical personnel or IT department
  • Facilitating or developing process improvements by analyzing and updating current clinical workflows
  • Conducting or attending regular project team meetings to update members of project status and any issues that may impact the project success
  • Collecting requirements from users and writing up specific specifications to configure/update the clinical software application
  • Assisting with clinical reporting requests and presenting these to management
  • Providing on-call assistance as indicated by the job
How To Become a Clinical Analyst

Many people are under the false impression that you need a specialized degree to become a clinical analyst.

Most clinical analysts I know became clinical analysts simply by getting involved in the implementation of a project at their hospital, or they applied to a job with a vendor, or a hospital.

Are you a radiology tech? If so, what application is your hospital using to keep track of radiology orders? Who is in charge of making changes to the application?

Is the rehab department using an application to document their patient care? Who is in charge of maintaining that application?

If you’re working in a hospital as a healthcare provider, many times getting a job as a Clinical Analyst it is as easy as getting involved with the implementation of a project in your department.

This gives you a bit of experience in the informatics arena, and that experience can be translated to valuable interviewing experience which can eventually lead to a job.

If  you’re an IT person with no clinical background, browsing a hospitals IT job section can give you an idea as to what IT skills they are looking for.  Landing an IT job can eventually lead you to getting trained in configuring a clinical software application.

However, it is true that nowadays the field is becoming very competitive and that’s why many people are trying to get a degree in healthcare informatics to get a competitive edge in finding a job.

But if you’re persistent, you can land a clinical analyst job using your current healthcare background or IT degree, without having to get an extra degree.

Preparing For A Clinical Informatics or Clinical Analyst Position

Given that the difference between a Clinical Analyst and a Nursing Informatics Analyst position is simply a nursing degree, you can browse the other posts in my blog to get ready for a Clinical Analyst position:

Nursing informatics Interview Tips

Nursing Informatics Interview Questions

Informatics Resume Tips

Even though these links are geared for a nursing informatics position, the concepts remain the same for a Clinical Informatics or Clinical Analyst Position.

I have interviewed candidates for these jobs and all that changes is really the application and clinical workflow.

And as always, if you have any specific questions about informatics, don’t hesitate to write me: chrisnihq at gmail dot com



Chris (20 Posts)

Chris Smith works as a clinical analyst consultant with 9 years of experience working in the nursing informatics field. He started this blog to help others learn more about nursing informatics because he got tired of reading a lot of misinformation about this field on the web. You can connect with Chris on Google+

8 Responses to Clinical Analyst vs Clinical Informatics Nurse

  • JC says:

    Hello Chris, I have found this blog to be very interesting in that I’m at the crossroads of what I would like to major in for my bachelors. My current situation is that I’m a clinical analyst specialist at my hospital with 10+ years of radiology tech background. I’m currently working on my hospital’s implementation with Epic. I am enjoying my work as a clinical analyst, but I would like to take a step further and get my nursing degree. My question is, if I go back to school after this implementation is done to get my nursing degree, will it be hard for me to come back into informatics because I wasn’t a nursing clinical analyst? Or will my experience in clinical analytics be taken into account after my nursing degree?

    • admin says:

      I would say going for nursing is going the hard route given that you already work as an analyst. Why don’t you consider a health informatics degree instead? But to answer your question, it shouldn’t be hard to come back as a clinical analyst since you already have experience in the field. But the real question is, why would you want to go into nursing if you don’t want to do clinical nursing?

      • JC says:

        As much as I would love to continue on to a health informatics degree, this answer is two fold. First, my employer doesn’t favor those without a nursing degree. I have seen some people leave to get their nursing degree, even though they have an informatics degree to be able to move up in my hospital. Second, from what I have researched with my current situation, it’s cheaper to get a nursing degree than a health informatics degree.

        • admin says:

          Is your employer a hospital? And if so, how big is it?

          • JC says:

            It’s not a big hospital – 300 bed hospital.

          • admin says:

            Makes sense. I’ve mainly worked with vendors and large hospitals so a nursing degree is not really needed for analysts jobs with these employers (vendors/large hospitals.) Exception is, if you specifically work in a nursing informatics department. Anyway, I have plenty of colleagues who started as analysts and who have no nursing background and now they are managers project managers and one went on to become an executive. If you plan to stick with this employer until retirement, then it seems you have no choice but to go for a nursing degree. However, t is not the norm out there that if you don’t have a nursing degree, you can’t advance in informatics.

  • JC says:

    Thank you so much for your insight. It has helped me a lot with my decision on where to focus on to build my career in informatics.
    This is a great blog and I’m very happy to have stumbled on it.

  • KG says:

    Hi Chris, I started working as a clinical analyst. Thanks for your guidance and support during my job hunt

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