Survey shows nurses feel EHRs enhance patient care

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Analytics recently conducted a survey of nurses in celebration of National Nurses Week, which takes place from May 6-12. With the assistance of Allscripts, the organization took a poll to see how the participants feel about electronic health record implementation. The nurses were asked questions about how their EHR systems enhance factors like patient safety and interoperability. 

HIMSS asks nurses for feedback on EHR success
Allscripts spokesperson Kerry Bruning explained to EHR Intelligence why the HIMSS and her organization decided to poll nurses instead of physicians for this particular survey. She noted that nursing is the largest health care profession in the U.S. with over 3 million registered nurses

While attempting to retrieve feedback from the health care sector on the effectiveness of EHR systems, nurses were a good source of information, as they are the primary providers of direct patient care. Bruning added that although patients go to the doctor's office or hospital to see their physicians, they usually receive 24/7 care from nurses. An increasing number of advanced practice nurses are also becoming the primary care providers in many rural settings. Therefore, the opinions and experiences of nurses are vital to understanding how EHR systems and other health IT are impacting practices and hospitals across the nation.

Some of the most significant results gathered by the survey, which included 626 registered nurses, found that 71 percent were so impressed with their EHR systems that they would never consider going back to paper-based medical records. Another 72 percent also agreed that EHRs helped their practices reduce issues like medical errors and patient safety breaches.

One result from the survey that surprised Brendan FitzGerald, research director at HIMSS Analytics, and Bruning was that there was a large number of nurses who felt they were not included enough in the decision-making process when it came to choosing an EHR system. As nurses use the system for the majority of their work, FitzGerald and Bruning found this to be problematic.  

"One of the things I found when we did the study that jumped out at me was the lack of participation in the buying decision of EHR and HIT solutions by nurses," FitzGerald told EHR Intelligence. "Obviously, there's a high level of usage among them on the front lines, but nearly 66 percent said they'd never participated in a buying decision. This blew me away since the [nurses] are the ones that are front-and-center when using it and their feedback is critical."

Do EHRs improve interoperability and safety?
The survey found that a total of 70 percent of nurses feel that adopting EHR systems enhanced patient safety. Nurses feel that providing safer care is now much easier than it was before with paper documentation processes. When nurses in acute spaces where patients are generally diagnosed with serious conditions were polled, this figure increased to 80 percent.  

According to FitzGerald, the majority of nurses agree that the implementation of EHRs improved their ability to share data with other medical organizations when necessary. 

"Many felt that having EHRs and an HIT system in place helped improve sharing information inside the organization," FitzGerald stated. "Sharing information on the outside was a bit lower. Obviously, there's still some barriers around multiple organizations having multiple platforms, interoperability issues, [and] integration of those platforms."

EHRs are on their way to becoming increasingly interoperable so that clinicians have access to health information, regardless of where it was entered into the system. Data must be available at the point of care through high-quality EHR systems that enable the sharing of information between all providers, including primary care physicians and specialty doctors.