Electronic records can reveal which nurses are most effective, researchers say

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Nursing homes might be able to identify and reward their highest performing nurses by analyzing data, and those with a bachelor's degree are likely to be in that group, suggest recently published findings from the University of Michigan.

Investigators analyzed electronic medical records and human resources databases for more than 1,200 nurses matched with more than 7,300 patients at a single hospital.

About 8% of the variance in patient outcomes could be linked to the work of nurses, the study authors determined. The nurse “value added” contribution to care was higher for those who had at least a bachelor's degree or were more experienced.

“The ability to measure individual nurse relative value-added opens the possibility for development of performance metrics, performance-based rankings, and merit-based salary schemes to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs,” the authors wrote in the study abstract. They were affiliated with the University of Colorado and Marquette University as well as the University of Michigan.

Full findings currently are online and will be forthcoming in Health Services Research