About Nurses, Patience and EHRs
Physicians have a vested interest in the efficiency and productivity of nurses, since nurses are on the front lines of caring for our mutual patients. So it caught my eye when findings of a survey of nurses’ opinions about electronic health records (EHR) systems were published recently.
For two decades, nurses have endured convoluted workflows imposed by EHR systems; in fact, nurses have lived with poor EHR workflow for so long, many have just gotten used to it. So it was actually a pleasant surprise to read that 43 percent of nurses responding to the survey (which was conducted by HIMSS Analytics for Allscripts) said EHRs eliminate duplicate work, and 33 percent said EHRs afford them more time with patients. Given those results, it’s a testimony to nurses’ patience that a mere 15 percent – about one in seven – are frustrated with EHRs to the point that they’d prefer to go back to paper records. (In contrast, a soon-to-be-released survey of physicians found more than twice that percentage – one in three – said they’d switch back from their hospital EHR to paper, given the choice.)
Perhaps these survey results are a sign things are getting better for nurses, at least slightly. After all, when somebody has been hitting you with a steel pipe, it feels better when they only slap you with their hand.
As a physician with a profound appreciation for all that nurses contribute to patient care, I can only hope that EHRs evolve to provide more and better support to nurses. Because whatever helps nurses ends up helping patients and physicians, too.