With hospitals preparing to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) to qualify for financial subsidies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), nurses around the country are understandably concerned about the impact the systems will have on their job functions, patient care activities, and productivity.
In recent years, I have been involved in two highly successful IT implementations: I helped install an EHR in the emergency department (ED) at Union Hospital and a major system upgrade in the ED at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. The implementations were part of a strategic initiative that Saint Barnabas Health Care System—the largest integrated delivery network in New Jersey—launched in 2002 to automate its six hospital system by 2012.
Based on my experience, I am confident nurses will view EHR as one of the best things that could have happened to them and their patients, once they learn and start using the system. While RNs will have to go through a period of adjustment, they will discover that the learning curve is not as steep as they fear or imagine. Organizations and nurse managers can ensure a successful transition and no downtime resulting from electronic records by focusing in the following areas: