Members of the Care360 team from Quest Diagnostics frequently discuss the value of electronic health records (EHRs) among medical professionals/providers. Discussions are inclusive because we recognize that it’s not only physicians and patients who benefit from implementing an EHR. Registered nurses are able to provide high-quality and coordinated patient care with an EHR at their fingertips.
In a study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration in November 2011, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing determined that “nurses working with EHRs consistently reported more improvements to nursing care and better outcomes for patients, as compared to nurses working in hospitals without the technology.”
The study looked at data from 16,000 nurses working in 316 hospitals in four states, and found that “implementation of an EHR may result in improved and more efficient nursing care, better care coordination and better patient safety,” wrote lead author Ann Kutney-Lee, PhD, RN.
According to the Journal article, nurses in hospitals with fully implemented basic EHRs were significantly less likely to report unfavorable patient safety issues, frequent medication errors and low quality of care. These findings suggest that the level of detail available in the EHR may allow for more comprehensive unit transfer reports and discharge summaries to outside healthcare providers.
“With the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, EHRs are rapidly becoming part of the daily practice of the bedside nurse,” wrote Kutney-Lee. “The degree of support from nurse leaders for the EHR will affect the success of this technology’s implementation and as a result, patient care.”
In a May 2012 article called Nurses Adopt EHRs, author Andrew Schwartz from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) looked at how EHRs add value for practicing nurses. In the article, faculty and alumni from UCSF discussed “best practices that can ease the learning curve and indicate area of improvement,” according to Schwartz. “The challenge is getting from here to there.”
One alumni, Marilyn Chow, vice president of National Patient Care Services at Kaiser Permanente, talks about Kaiser’s most recent EHR implementation. “Today, the healthcare system is going through a period of transition to using new technology such as EHRs,” says Chow. “We are already changing nursing practice for the better and over time, we will continue to add value to what nurses can do.”
One particular area of interest, according to the article, is how the overall interaction with patients will be impacted.
While “nurses spend more time inputting information with EHRs, [they do spend] less time finding the information needed to make wise decisions,” Schwartz writes. “Usually, that clinical information is also more complete and more accurate than it was with paper records.” He also quotes a home health nurse who says that inputting patient information into an EHR definitely adds pressure, “but ultimately getting the data into the computer correctly will be best for patient care.”
The May 2012 article also discusses whether or not a computer screen is a potential physical barrier between the nurse and patient. Schwartz quotes an EHR vendor with a tip for users to create a triangle with the doctor and nurse, the patient and the computer screen. According to the vendor, this triangle allows for doctors and nurses to more actively engage patients in their own healthcare.
With nurses playing a critical role in a patient care experience, the Care360 team at Quest Diagnostics welcomes the opportunity to educate healthcare providers on Care360 EHR. Additionally, hospitals using ChartMaxx, the eight-time ‘Best in KLAS’* Document Management and Imaging (DMI) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, enables healthcare organizations to see immediate improvements through the efficient collection and use of clinical, financial and administrative information including electronic documents, discrete data, eForms and automated workflows.