Nurses and technology can mix, expert says

The road to electronic health record success is to directly involve the nursing staff who will be the “heaviest users” of the system, a nursing and clinical information expert said during a McKnight's Super Tuesday webinar.

“Many times we forget to go to the bedside and really listen to the person who is using the product to understand what works best,” said Jillene Snow, R.N., BSN, MBA, CHC, senior vice president of compliance and clinical information for Ethica Health and Retirement Communities. “Get it as close to the bedside as possible.”

When selecting an EHR vendor, Snow advised facilities to start by learning and defining what they need, versus what they want. After determining unique organizational needs, facilities should then establish an internal evaluation team.

Once vendors have completed onsite demonstrations, and nursing teams have visited current users to see systems in action, it's time for the pilot. The discovery and set-up phases for EHR systems should last as long, or longer, than the pilot, which may take six months, according to Snow. She also advises providers with multiple facilities to avoid the obvious choice for which site to use for the pilot.

“Seek out a couple of centers, one of which may be a bit more challenging or not comfortable with change,” Snow said. “This is a culture change as much as a new computer.

Having an efficient and effective EHR in place will help facilities connect technology to a top-of-license approach, a relatively new concept in the post-acute environment where each member of the nursing staff operates at the fullest extent of their training.

Among best practices in achieving a top-of-license approach outlined by Snow include:

  • Protecting nurses from avoidable “time sinks”

  • Streamlining nursing documentation

  • Cultivate willingness to delegate

  • Remove interprofessional barriers

  • Expand decision making

In the future, Snow said she hopes the government will “understand that they have to incentivize” EHRs in the post-acute care market.

“It's become a requirement for us not because the government in requiring it, but because our business model requires it,” Snow said. “Our role as nursing leadership is to ensure the technology we bring to the organization supplements and enhances the nursing process, and does not interrupt care.”

An archived version of the webinar can be viewed here.