Health informatics is an increasingly common career path for nurses looking to get away from emergency rooms and direct care atmospheres. For one HIMSS Social Media Ambassador, the transition has been an interesting evolution.
A native of California’s Bay Area, Danielle Siarri is known for her expertise in nursing informatics and her website, which is a popular platform for her own content and research. But how does a former trauma nurse become a social media influencer and health IT thought leader?
“I was always good with technology and people would call me to come work for them when they would unveil a new electronic health record platform,” Siarri said. “Someone noticed that I knew about seven different systems and said I should probably be teaching courses. I started thinking about that and then someone introduced me to HIMSS. It was there that I discovered all the different institutions where you can get a Master’s in Nursing Informatics.”
Combining nursing science, computer science and information science, an informatics degree was a natural fit for Siarri. Her school work at the University of Pittsburgh was important, as it sparked her next idea.
“I’ve traveled to about 30 different countries, and in a lot of cases I knew going in that not everyone would understand nursing informatics,” Siarri said. “So what I did was create my own digital health library. In school we had to log our research in an Excel, but there was no way to share it. I created Innonurse as a way to share my research. As I started to share that and started writing about it, my fans would want to know when I updated the research. I came up with the idea to do an image with my branded logo within the image (see below for the logo). That’s the signal to my followers that I’ve updated the library.”
As she began writing articles about the research, Siarri gained a following. Attending HIMSS conferences regularly, she decided to push what she could do with that following to the next level by applying to become a HIMSS social media ambassador at a conference in Barcelona. She was accepted and has been doing it ever since at HIMSS conferences around the world.
For the upcoming gathering in Las Vegas, March 5-9, Siarri is excited about her loaded schedule, particularly education sessions she’ll either be attending or will help lead.
“I’ve been trying to log them all and build out my calendar,” Siarri said. “There are two women from NASA speaking about telehealth* that I’m looking forward to seeing. Also, a session called Building Capacity for Diversity that is part of the HIMSS African American group which I’m on the committee. We’re taking the results from data we received and looking at whether students at historical black colleges are receiving the same level of education as other schools.”
The same group will also lead a networking session that will feature the Chief Information Officer of United Healthcare, Phil McKoy, and representatives of the ONC speaking.
Siarri and other social media ambassadors will also be available to speak with conference attendees at an event on March 6. Ambassadors make themselves available to anyone in attendance, be it vendors or regular healthcare professionals.
“We’ll talk to them about being an ambassador and using social media,” Siarri said. “Last year we did some Facebook Lives and speaking engagements around the conference. I personally like to go around to the different vendors, meet them and Periscope while I’m doing that. My followers will tell me which ones they want to see and I’ll go over and check out different vendors and see what’s happening.”
Siarri is a regular at health IT conferences around the country. But HIMSS is a different beast altogether: “the biggest,” she says. With her experience, she has some advice on how to tackle the massive event.
“It’s 45-55,000 people, so you need to set up a calendar,” Siarri says. “They will have an app that’s coming out for this year, that’s a good idea to use. Give yourself time for a rest, because it’s a pretty big venue. Some people don’t pace themselves and before you know it you have a grown man crying that his Italian loafers are killing him. It’s almost like a vacation, you don’t want to pack too much in, but at the same time you see people wandering around, they don’t know where to start. So make a plan before you go.”
*The session referenced is called “Caring for Astronauts in Space: The Role of Telehealth at NASA.”