As of January 1, 2014 a federal mandate required that all public and private healthcare providers transition to digital record keeping. The move stemmed mostly from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which offered incentives to healthcare providers that could demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic heath records (EHR). According to HealthIT.gov, meaningful use includes improving quality, safety efficiency, and reducing health disparities. It also includes engaging patients and families, improving care coordination, and maintaining privacy and security of patient health information.
While we know what EHRs mean for healthcare facilities in terms of implementation, what does this change mean for nurses? Electronic health records directly affect nurses’ jobs on a daily basis and adapting to the new technology may be a matter of sink or swim in terms of their careers. A study in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing by Carol Huston MSN, DPA, FAAN found that emerging technologies will greatly impact the future of nursing, including the skills nurses will need to remain successful in the industry. Huston states, “The capacity to manage human knowledge, and to convert it into useful products and services, is fast becoming the ‘critical’ leader skill of the age.” She goes on to write, “Computers will also continue to play a significant role in knowledge acquisition and distribution. In a profession where knowledge doubles every six years, nurses can no longer be the keeper of knowledge. Instead, they must become the master of collecting and sharing that knowledge with others.”
While the main goal of EHRs is to deliver better coordinated care by allowing doctors and nurses to access a patient’s medical history whether they show up in the ER or switch doctors’ offices without transferring their medical records. It also ensures patient data is backed up securely so that in the event of natural disasters or if you are in an accident, doctors can properly treat you. Overall, EHRs bring about a number of positive changes to the healthcare industry, but how does this translate to the day-to-day tasks of a nurse?
Nurses that are currently in school working towards their degree will most likely receive hands on training and experience with EHRs, but seasoned nurses who are already in the field, will need to adapt on the job. Doctor Aaron E. Glatt of Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, Long Island knows firsthand that nurses will need to adapt to the changing landscape of healthcare. “Nurses will be taught the skills they need when the hospital implements the [Electronic Health Records (EHR)], but it’s crucially important for nurses to embrace the technology rather than saying ‘no this is not for me’.” And adapting could mean a matter of whether or not nurses will continue to succeed in the healthcare industry. “If nurses aren’t actively interested in adapting to the new technologies, they’re going to find themselves not marketable,” states Glatt.
With the transition to EHRs, what will healthcare companies do in order to help nurses achieve an understanding of electronic health records and create systems that make their jobs easier, rather than more difficult? Nurses already have hectic fast paced jobs, so it stands to question whether or not EHRs will slow nurses down, forcing them to input data rather than simply writing it out by hand. Dr. Glatt states that to avoid this, hospitals should include nurses and make sure they are a critical part of the development and implementation of EHRs, and that by doing so, they will be able to create systems that help make nurses’ lives easier, rather than harder. “Nurses need to be involved in the implementation of technology,” says Dr. Glatt, “the best nurses we have and the nurses who stepped up to the plate were active in forming the new templates and forming the new way we will be entering and documenting patient information.”
And the adaption of electronic health records will bring new vital skills to the role of nursing as well as new jobs. “New jobs will emerge, the more skills you have, the more attractive a person becomes for any openings or promotions,” says Dr. Glatt. He also feels that the more willing nurses are to adapt to new technology, and the more they embrace it, the more valuable they will become in the healthcare industry. The more valuable nurses become, the more opportunities will open up to them, as long as they have the skills and expertise to grow within the industry.
Nurses shouldn’t feel as though the need to adapt to technology is negative, either. It can help make their lives easier if they embrace the cutting edge technology. While Dr. Glatt admits that sometimes it can be “cumbersome” to input data, by raising safety and quality standards, it will help improve nurses day-to-day. “Barcodes make it harder to make mistakes or input errors that might have been done in the past if. If you have a good EMR and a full robust technology, it will sometimes be more difficult to learn and difficult to use, but overall it’s better to have it entered into the computer where it’s clean and it’s neat and can easily be recovered. That extra time and effort will pay off in the long run.”
If your office is interested in getting help to pay for acquiring Electronic Health Records then please give us a call today at 866-203-3260 today and speak with one or our representatives.