Healthcare News & Insights

Your nurses may hate your hospital’s EHR: Here’s why

While most talk about electronic health record (EHR) systems has centered on doctors’ troubles with adapting to them, hospital nurses are also having major difficulties with EHRs.

76801642A new survey highlights just how frustrated nurses are with most hospitals’ EHR systems. Ninety-two percent of nurses are currently dissatisfied with their hospital’s EHR, according to the Q3 2014 Black Book EHR Loyalty survey.

The survey polled almost 14,000 RNs from across the country who all used hospital EHRs in the past six months, and participants had mostly negative things to say about their facility’s systems.

Most nurses said their hospitals’ EHR systems contributed to lower productivity and workflow disruptions affecting the quality of patient care. And 85% of nurses said they continually struggle with their facility’s flawed EHR.

Reasons for frustration

Communication issues are a major contributor to why nurses aren’t happy with hospital EHRs. Ninety percent of nurses surveyed said their hospital’s EHR negatively affects communication between nurses and patients, and 94% thought it hurt communication between nurses and other clinical staff, including doctors and pharmacists.

Some of the communication problems between nurses and other medical staff come from a lack of consistency when it comes to documentation in the system. Only about half the nurses working in large hospitals with more than 100 beds said that all clinical staff access and document patient info on the same EHR screens.

Because everyone accesses patient info differently, there’s more room for confusion and miscommunication when it comes to patient care.

Another big problem for nurses is a lack of IT resources, which can cause delays in entering information in a patient’s EHR. In fact, 91% of nurses in for-profit facilities said they had difficulty even locating an available EHR workstation during their shift.

The survey also showed many hospitals are lacking when it comes to troubleshooting EHR problems. Less than a third of nurses said that their IT departments or administrators responded quickly when nurses pointed out EHR vulnerabilities in documentation.

Rather than solve their problems, many nurses are just given temporary workarounds, and that makes them more frustrated with the system. Almost 70% of nurses surveyed have been told to use workarounds with their facility’s EHR.

Heading off problems

Not only can these issues compromise the quality of care your hospital provides, they can also cause issues with retention and recruitment for nurses. Several nurses surveyed indicated they were currently looking for new jobs, and for close to 80% of these nurses, the reputation of a specific hospital’s EHR is one of the top three factors that determine whether they’d accept a position at a facility.

So it’s clear: Your nurses’ needs should be considered when selecting or upgrading an EHR. This is why it’s key to include representation from your nursing staff throughout the process.

Nurses spend most of their time directly interacting with patients – possibly even more than your doctors. So it’s important for nurses to be able to accurately and effectively document vital signs and other key medical info in patients’ health records. Getting their feedback about what should be included in an EHR system will improve their efficiency and the quality of care they provide.

Besides getting input from nurses about your EHR – and implementing their suggestions – it’s also important to make sure they have easy access to the technology required to use the system.

One suggestion: Instead of limiting nurses to a few EHR workstations, consider allowing them to access the system using secure handheld electronic devices, such as tablets. This could help them enter clinical information into patients’ records faster, boosting productivity and reducing frustration.

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