Nurses generally satisfied with EHRs, but key pain points persist

A new report from KLAS and the Arch Collaborative finds that nearly three times as many nurses are satisfied with their electronic health record experience as those who are frustrated. Those findings suggest their may be a way to improve EHRs for physicians, who tend to be more pessimistic in general about the technology.

“By some accounts, nurses outnumber physicians in the United States four to one,” according to the report. “The feedback from these nurses shows that they have a different experience with the EHR than do other clinician groups, and overall, nurses achieve significantly higher levels of EHR satisfaction than physicians.

Of the nurses polled by KLAS and the Arch Collaborative, 62 percent said they’re pleased with their EHR, 20 percent said they’re frustrated with the technology and 18 percent were indifferent.

Those are somewhat encouraging numbers, given the pessimism many physicians are said still feel for their EHR systems.

“Because nurses work so widely with the EHR and play such a significant role in care delivery, this report is aimed at understanding where there are opportunities for improvement in the nurse experience and what the nurse experience can teach other groups of clinicians about how to succeed with the EHR,” researchers said.

On several key questions, nurses were markedly more optimistic that physicians about EHRs and their potential. Asked whether the technology keeps patients safe, 67 percent of nurses said yes, compared with 47 percent of doctors. More of them also said the systems enable quality care (62 percent of nurses vs. 53 percent of docs) an helps deliver patient-centered care (60 percent to 42 percent, respectively).

“Some of the strongest satisfaction points for nurses are those related to patient care,” researchers noted. “The majority of the care- delivery support that occurs in the EHR is completed by nurses. While this time spent in the EHR reduces the amount of time nurses have to spend on direct patient care, nurses still spend more time with patients than physicians do, and Arch Collaborative data shows that the majority of nurses agree that their EHR benefits patients.”

Still, there are plenty of frustrations to go around, and the KLAS report asked nurses about their EHR usability pain points. Nurses said the software was difficult to learn, had complaints about usability and generally saw them falling short in some key areas.

Asked whether EHRs offer the analytics, quality measures and reporting they need, just 54 percent of RNs said yes, compared with 28 percent of physicians. Do EHRs makes them as efficient as possible? Just half of nurses said yes, compared with 29 percent of doctors. And fewer than half of each group (46 percent and 34 percent, respectively) felt that EHRs had the necessary integration capabilities for interoperability.

The technology-exacerbated burnout epidemic in healthcare is not just for physicians. Nurses feel it too. As a critical component of hospital care delivery, and a significant part of the healthcare workforce, their job satisfaction is important.

This is not the first survey to find that nurses are generally tolerant of EHRs. Back in 2015, a poll from HIMSS Analytics found that, despite the fact that RNs spend as much as 35 percent of their shift time doing data entry, 71 percent wouldn’t support a return to paper records and similar percentages think EHRs improve patient safety and clinical collaboration.

“Nurses are clearly more satisfied with the EHR than are providers (defined in the Arch Collaborative sample as physicians, advanced practice providers, and residents/fellows),” researchers write in the report.

“However, there are still areas that need improvement, such as integration with outside organizations,” they added. “Less than half of surveyed nurses agree that their EHR’s current external integration capabilities meet their expectations. Additionally, only half agree to at least some extent that the EHR makes them as efficient as possible, and just over half agree that the EHR provides them with the analytics, quality measures, and reporting they need.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication. 

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