December 20, 2010
Anyone who has visited the emergency room lately is acutely aware that the nursing staff is the linchpin to successful illness and injury treatment. The same holds true for anyone who is admitted to the hospital. Nurses spend the most time with hospital patients than any other healthcare professional including, yes, the patient’s doctor.
So it only makes sense that the successful implementation of an electronic health record (EHR) in a hospital setting is dependent on nursing staff buy-in of the hospital’s EHR choice. Deborah Canfield, RN, should know. She’s been involved in the implementation of two EHRs – both in emergency departments (EDs). She recently wrote about her experience on Health Leaders Media and offered a number of best practices to ensure the nursing staff at your hospital successfully transitions from paper records to time-saving health IT.
Because the workflow in every ED is different, failing to solicit the input of the department’s nurses during the EHR selection process is bit of a non-starter. The employees who will use the system the most should at least be able to recommend the EHR or EHR features that will best help them improve patient care and safety.
Once the EHR is selected, successfully and quickly implementing the system in the most fast-paced, high patient volume department gives the system instant “street cred.” That’s why Canfield recommends the ED as the first stop for a hospital’s EHR. Plus, by adopting a “build it and they will come” strategy in the ED will make implementing the system hospital-wide that much easier.
The general consensus on training is this: make it quick, make it timely and conduct it in groups as small as possible. Canfield also recommends recruiting “super users,” the Wonder Women and Supermen who swoop down to assist their peers when the EHR vendor start-up support is over. Establishing an elite squad of EHR users through a special program with appropriate incentives will build excitement about the new system. Super users could even be the same nurses who made EHR selection recommendations early in the process.
The EHR meaningful use clock is ticking. For hospitals preparing to meet the federal requirements, involving nurses in the process early on and throughout implementation and beyond is a smart game plan to ensure your EHR implementation is a winning one.