Electronic health records are helping nurses get better health outcomes and are improving nursing care, the first big study on the subject has found.
The study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing involved 16,000 nurses at 316 hospitals in California, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It found that "implementation of an EHR may result in improved and more efficient nursing care, better care coordination, and patient safety," wrote lead author Ann Kutney-Lee, a health-outcomes researcher at Penn Nursing.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Nursing Administration, also found, "having a basic EHR was associated with better outcomes independently of nurse staffing, indicating that they both play an important role in quality of care."
Nurses in hospitals that had comprehensive EHR systems were "significantly less likely to report unfavorable patient safety issues, frequent medication errors, and low quality of care," research-reporting service Newswise reports.
The most current estimates show just 12 percent of U.S. hospitals have an EHR system in place, but that will change with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Starting in 2011, hospitals and physicians received incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid to switch over to EHRs. The study did not measure outcomes in rural vs. urban settings "although we do know from other studies that hospitals that used electronic health records during this time period were less likely to be in rural areas," Kutney-Lee said. (Read more)