Electronic health records (EHR) are now widely used in the US healthcare setting. These IT systems enable healthcare professionals to improve the quality of care significantly. It has been acknowledged that EHR systems are instrumental in reducing the rate of medical errors and associated negative health outcomes for patients (Seckman, 2016). This technology is now used as a tool to engage patients and their relatives through the provision of access to some resources, making healthcare more patient-oriented. Telemedicine is likely to benefit from the development of EHR systems that can bridge the needs of patients and nurses (Bowles, Dykes, & Demiris, 2015). Nevertheless, there are various issues to address such as safety issues, funding, training, and so forth.
The major components of EHR include administrative, communication, decision support, health information and data (Seckman, 2016). Administrative elements are associated with admissions, claims, schedules, and other patient management functions. The communication component is associated with the use of email, text messaging, telemedicine, integrated health records. Importantly, communication occurs between different healthcare professionals, as well as between healthcare professionals and patients. Decision-making is facilitated through the use of such data as medication doses, allergies, risk prevention, standards and guidelines, and other resources.
Benefits for healthcare professionals
The use EHR is associated with numerous benefits that improve the quality of the provided care. Nurses benefit from the utilization of these IT systems as the healthcare facilities improve considerably their documentation efficiency (OʼBrien, Weaver, Settergren, Hook, & Ivory, 2015). Nurses can access the necessary data quickly. They also can access a plethora of useful resources, as well as standards, policies, and guidelines. The availability of such resources and data enables healthcare professionals to make correct decisions (Field, Fong, & Shade, 2018). In its turn, this effective decision-making translates into the decrease in the rate of medical errors. Effective knowledge sharing also facilitates the functioning of multidisciplinary teams. These benefits are closely linked to nurses’ positive attitudes towards the use of EHR (Higgins et al., 2017). Nursing professionals’ burnout decreases while their motivation increases, which has a positive impact on the quality of the provided services.
Benefits for patients
Patients also benefit from the employment of EHR systems. The quality of care they receive improves significantly with the use of EHR and similar IT solutions (Bowles et al., 2015). Moreover, patients report their increased satisfaction with the quality of communication with healthcare professionals (Higgins et al., 2017). Patients can receive more individualized care, and they can also improve the quality of their life through the use of numerous guidelines and recommendations available through EHR. Patients’ access to certain data is beneficial for their health and satisfaction with the healthcare services they receive. Finally, telehealth is associated with the increased accessibility to healthcare services as patients access data that can help them shape their lifestyles, or try different prevention strategies.
Areas of major concern
One of the major concerns related to the use of EHR is data confidentiality and safety. Databases may be breached or simply fail, which can lead to data loss and associated confidentiality issues (Sollecito & Johnson, 2013). The most sensitive data include personal and financial information. Many patients are concerned about such issues. Besides, many healthcare facilities lack funding, which translated into applications and systems that function poorly. Healthcare professionals often note that the existing EHR can be difficult to use, which contributes to people’s resistance to using this type of technology (Graban, 2016). Finally, it is essential to provide training to the staff, which is related to additional funding that can be unavailable. People may also be reluctant to use new systems as they are often associated with additional workload.
EHR and similar IT solutions can be helpful for nursing leaders as these tools are instrumental in facilitating communication and collaboration (Seckman, 2016). The members of the team can share data easily and make evidence-based decisions. This is specifically beneficial for teams working different shifts. Nursing leaders can access the necessary data and manage teams more effectively. Importantly, some EHR systems can help in such areas as quality control and time management. Nursing leaders can monitor tasks completion as well as the occurrence of some errors.
Bowles, K., Dykes, P., & Demiris, G. (2015). The use of health information technology to improve care and outcomes for older adults. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 8(1), 5-10.
Graban, M. (2016). Lean hospitals: Improving quality, patient safety, and employee engagement (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Higgins, L., Shovel, J., Bilderback, A., Lorenz, H., Martin, S., Rogers, D., & Minnier, T. (2017). Hospital nursesʼ work activity in a technology-rich environment. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 32(3), 208-217.
OʼBrien, A., Weaver, C., Settergren, T., Hook, M., & Ivory, C. (2015). EHR documentation. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 39(4), 333-339.
Seckman, C. A. (2013). Electronic health records and applications for managing patient care. In R. Nelson & N. Staggers (Eds.), Health informatics – e-book: An interprofessional approach (pp. 90-111). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Sollecito, W. A., & Johnson, J. K. (2013). Continuous quality improvement in health care (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.