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5 things that can improve nurses’ satisfaction with EHRs

The industry is carefully attuned to provider wellness, and this is important. We know this burden has a negative impact on healthcare. We need to think more broadly and reduce nurses’ burden as well.

Nurses, by nature, are good at adapting. We work in a state of near constant interruption and shifting tasks. We advocate for patients in all situations, even when they are less than ideal. We often work around problems in our electronic health records (EHRs). Like doctors, nurses are also not immune to burnout.

Frustrated nurses lead to upset patients, regardless of the setting. Because improving patient care is the goal for all nurses, it’s important to focus on nursing wellness. In honor of Nurses Week, we’ve pulled tips from recent studies that focus on how to help improve nurses’ experiences with EHRs. Here are just a few:

1) Offer a more mature EHR

Many EHR implementations do not utilize all of the available features. One study found that nurses were more than twice as likely to be satisfied when the EHR is advanced, including features like optimized clinical decision support and electronic medication reconciliation, compared with nurses who indicated these functionalities were not present.

2) Improve usability

Another study found that one in three nurses report poor usability as a top concern. Unnecessary key strokes and screens interrupt clinical thinking and increase cognitive load. We argue that it’s time to move beyond usability, and focus more on features that will be helpful, when responding to clinicians’ feedback about the EHR.

3) Design views with nursing in mind

Related to usability, research suggests that nurses don’t feel they can accurately capture the patient story within the EHR. Options for narrative and structured formats, as well as more effective views that tell the patient’s story for nurses, appeared as suggestions for improvement. Understanding the nursing-specific workflows (instead of designing generically for clinicians) can optimize how information is captured and reviewed by the nurses.

4) Break down “silos” of information

One in four survey respondents are frustrated that data in their EHR system is not integrated with data from other systems. Nurses realize that integrated information will reduce the amount of re-entry they have to do and create a more accurate, complete picture of patients. Comprehensive information can also improve patient satisfaction, as patients don’t have to repeat themselves.

5) Include nurses in EHR selection decisions

Nurses are primary users of EHR systems and should have a seat at the table when early, critical decisions are being made. A HIMSS Analytics survey about EHR adoption found that only about one out of four nurses have participated in an EHR buying decision, even though nurses comprise the largest segment of the healthcare workforce by far.

Nurses are key stakeholders and should be involved throughout when designing, selecting, implementing, configuring and optimizing EHR systems. The EHR is a stronger tool with their input and participation. We must be committed to giving nurses tools and features that are – not just useful or usable – but helpful.

To all my fellow nurses, thank you and happy Nurses Week. We are grateful for your dedication and service to others.

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