Using EHRs to Alleviate the Challenges Nurses Face

May 10th, 2016 - By Kevin V. Nguyen

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the health industry, keeping hospitals functional and efficient, while providing round-the-clock care to patients in need. They are tasked with juggling an impossible amount of roles, and expected to perform each one perfectly. Nurses are caregivers, patient advocates, teachers, and much more.

National Nurse Week is the week where we celebrate and appreciate the vital role nurses play in the health care industry. Let’s look at some of the challenges nurses face, and how we can help overcome them.

Helping Nurses Adopt EHRs

Electronic health record (EHR) software has hit the health care industry by storm, and nurses are the most frequent users of EHRs. HealthcareITNews reports that 79 percent of job-seeking nurses polled say the reputation of the hospital’s EHR system is a “top three” consideration in their choice of where they will work. Unfortunately, there is near-universal disdain for EHRs, as 90 percent say their EHR has adversely affected communications between nurses and their patients. They believe that “financial administrators and CIOs… low-performing EHR systems based on price, and of cutting corners at the expense of quality of care.”

How do we alleviate the struggle nurses face with finding a proper EHR? Proper education and training. Having an infrastructure that allows nurses to be properly trained in using a new EHR is crucial for a successful system. Implementing an educational resource center and hosting webinars on EHR usage are two ways we can support medical staff in working with EHRs. PrognoCIS offers a comprehensive resource center where we provide our clients with user guides and training videos. It’s important to have an EHR that works with the provider, as well as for the provider.

Involving Nurses in the Development of EHRs

Black Book’s EHR Loyalty poll posts some staggering numbers:  98 percent of the 13,650 licensed RNs polled say they’ve never been included in their hospitals’ IT decisions or design. Many organizations and hospitals do not take into consideration the needs of nurses—when nurses are the biggest users of EHRs. It’s important to have an EHR that works hand in hand with a provider in creating a system that works for everyone. One way to achieve this is to have nurses involved in the creation and development of EHRs from day one. Receiving feedback from nurses at the development stage allows for a client designed to work with its biggest users.

UCSF’s James Kahn highlights how important it is to have nurses in the development of EHRs: “For us, the RNs, NPs and nurse scientists are an integral part of the clinic. We worked with nurses and certifying bodies to make sure we had all the different elements, populated with drop-down lists, and the note has made a real difference in nurse’s workflow and billing.”

By involving nurses in the development of EHRs, it allows for a client suited to their needs, therefore boosting their workflow. Hospital procedures that are optimized for ease-of-use create and patient records that are easy to access alleviates some of the stress nurses have to deal with.  By improving the workflow of an EHR’s biggest users, it  boosts a hospital’s productivity.

Striking a Balance between Electronic Input and Patient Interaction

As an EHR company, we understand how important it is to have a comprehensive EHR that works with nurses. We also believe that it is important that EHRs do not stand in the way of meaningful patient interaction. EHRs are a valuable tool, but so is the ability to converse with a patient about his or her ailments.

Nurses are an integral part of every health care provider. As we as industry move towards adopting EHRs into our healthcare systems, we must be conscious of our biggest users: nurses. We must allow nurses to help develop EHRs that work for them, and provide them with the accurate tools to learn how to use EHRs. National Nurses Week to us is about celebrating the vital role of nurses in the industry, and raising awareness of the challenges they face.

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