Study: EHRs improve hospital nursing care

Electronic health records do more than improve care rendered by physicians. They also improve care provided by nurses.

That's the scoop in a study of more than 16,000 nurses published in the Journal of Nursing Administration. According to the study, which covers 316 hospitals in four states, poor patient safety and other quality outcomes occurred less frequently when nurses used an EHR system.  

The study suggests that the implementation of a basic EHR may result in improved and more efficient nursing care, better care coordination and patient safety. 

"EHRs are rapidly becoming part of the daily practice of the bedside nurse," lead researcher Ann Kutney-Lee, a health outcomes researcher with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, said in a statement. "Nursing administrators should be fully engaged in the process of EHR adoption and implementation to ensure effective use and success in creating seamless transitions for patients throughout the healthcare continuum." 

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, Kutney-Lee pointed out.

This is not the only recent study surveying the effects of EHRs and nursing care, although it may be the most comprehensive. A survey of ICU nurses published in the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association reported that nurses were more accepting of EHRs in the ICU unit after having used them for a year. And a study out of Barcelona released in November noted that nurses were more satisfied with EHRs the more the technology was used.  

In the latter study, the authors recommend that hospitals and others implementing EHRs should provide their nurses with adequate training in the EHR system, as well as technical support. 

To learn more:
- read the study's abstract
- check out this article from the University of Pennsylvania's Nursing School
- read this UPI piece
- read the abstract of the nurse EHR training study
- here's the abstract of the ICU nurse study