Study: 1 in 5 nurses use electronic health records, quality linked to usage

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A total of 20% of nurses--or 1 in 5--use electronic health records. Facilities where use of EHR by nurses is prevalent are more likely to report nursing excellence and improved quality of care, according to a recent study.

Harvard researchers received 1,392 responses from a mail-survey of registered nurses. Some 17% of inpatient nurses frequently use EHRs to capture patient demographics, electronically order tests, procedures or drugs, and provide electronic diagnostic and treatment tools, including test results, according to the study. And 67% of nurses reported using EHRs for at least one of those functions. Researchers also discovered that nurses were more likely to use EHRs than physicians, with many facilities trying to introduce EHRs to physicians through increased use by nurses.

Researchers noted that facilities with higher rates of EHR use were also more likely to implement quality improvement measures and achieve higher standards of nursing excellence. In what some study authors have called a "chicken and the egg" dilemma, though, it is difficult to tell whether use of EHR results in better nursing practices, or if better nursing practices result in increased EHR use.