Many nurses and allied health professionals who are working in healthcare IT feel their role should be certified, a Digital Health Intelligence survey has revealed.

Some 70% of those who responded to the inaugural CNIO Network survey argued that it was time for a more formal recognition of nursing and AHP involvement in IT.

The results of the survey, which was run last year, offer a detailed insight into the current opportunities for such involvement as well as potential obstacles to it.

They reveal that, in many instances, CNIOs and AHPs informatics roles are being held by long-serving professionals. Some 78% of respondents said they had been a nurse or AHP for more than 20 years.

But it’s also clear that such roles remain in their infancy. Very few had held their informatics role for longer than five years. And there were discrepancies reported between the amount of time respondents had formally assigned to their IT responsibilities and the amount of time these commitments actually took.

This may be part of the reason so many were keen to see the role become a more formally certified one. Certainly many respondents spoke of wanting a clear career pathway which would offer opportunities for nurses and AHPs to become involved in IT much earlier in their careers.

And the survey results made the pressing need for CNIO succession plans clear: when asked what they expected their next career move to be, many of those who answered the survey said it would be retirement.

This is the first time Digital Health Intelligence has specifically surveyed members of the CNIO Network. The Network was created four years ago to provide a specific source of best practice and collaboration for those nurses and allied health professional (AHPs) working in or with IT. It runs alongside the Health CIO and CCIO Networks, also run by Digital Health.

In February, responding to a letter from the chairs of the Digital Health Networks, leaders at NHSX promised to introduce head of profession for CCIOs as well as a director of workforce.

The promise was repeated during an address during Digital Health Rewired given by NHSX deputy chief executive Simon Eccles.

The full report detailing the survey results is available for download from Digital Health Intelligence. Access is free for NHS organisations.

Findings will be discussed during a webinar on 22 May, with panellists including Natasha Phillips, the chief nursing information officer at NHSX and Jo Dickson, the chair of the CNIO Network.