Electronic Health Records System in Nursing Homes

Technology has played a pivotal role in improving the delivery of health services, as well as patient outcomes. Electronic health records system is one such technology that has had a considerable impact on the way hospitals and nursing homes manage the data of their patients. Electronic health records refer to information about a patient’s medical history that includes physical examinations and treatments administered (Quinn et al. 2019). I work full-time in the radiology department of a hospital that uses an electronic health system and part-time in a nursing home that still uses paper charting. Having the privilege of using the latest technology at the hospital, I find many inconveniences at the nursing home because the charting system does not incorporate the storage of essential information such as x-ray images for future reference. I believe that there is an urgent need for the nursing home to integrate an electronic health records system for better delivery of services. To achieve this feat, there will be the need for intensive training of employees to prepare them adequately for the imminent changes that the electronic health records systems will bring in their working environment (Wang, Ouyang, Hom, Chi, & Chen, 2018). In addition, the nursing home will need to have enough capital because installing and maintaining the system is quite costly.

Discussion

In the United States, most nursing homes still use the charting system of information management mainly due to limited resources. In health facilities that currently use this system, physicians often have complaints relating to fatigue, burnout, and increasing face time with patients (Noe, 2014). The reason for this is the fact that any information regarding the medical history of a patient takes a lot of effort and time to retrieve from files, while some tests have to be done repeatedly due to the lack of an adequate storage mechanism. Other notable challenges with this system include the security of the information, poor organization of files, and illegible handwriting that makes it hard for secondary parties to use certain information when needed. By introducing the electronic health records system, I can assure the nursing home that numerous benefits and an acceptable return on investment are guaranteed.

Having used this technology for some time, I believe that the nursing home is set to have a more efficient service delivery system and record improved patient outcomes. One of the benefits that the nursing home will experience from this technology will be accurate, complete, timely, and updated patient information (Wang et al., 2018). In the provision of healthcare services, the importance of an efficient delivery system cannot be overlooked because it can be the difference concerning saving the life of a patient. Inaccurate and outdated information often negatively affects patient outcomes. It is the ethical responsibility of every healthcare practitioner to keep accurate and updated records of sessions held with a patient. Electronic health records system has made it easy for such information to be stored and updated whenever the need arises (Quinn et al. 2019). From my experience, this technology enables practitioners to have quick access to patient information for efficient and coordinated care.

An electronic health records system will also be beneficial to the nursing home in helping physicians to reduce medical errors, diagnose patients more effectively, as well as share electronic information with clinicians in a more secure manner (Wang et al., 2018). Misdiagnosis of patients due to inaccurate information or other forms of medical errors is a major challenge that has hampered the effectiveness of healthcare delivery systems in America for many years. However, with the introduction of an electronic health records system, the numbers of medical errors reported across health facilities in the country have drastically reduced. This technology gives practitioners the capacity to review the full medical history of a patient before making a diagnosis, an element that has greatly improved the outcomes of healthcare services (Quinn et al. 2019). I believe that the nursing home will also improve on the reliability of their prescription process because information between different departments will be exchanged with ease and in a secure manner. A major challenge that I have faced while working at the nursing home has been numerous inconsistencies in the documentation of information relating to the progress of a patient. This problem is often necessitated by the lack of a streamlined coding and billing system (Noe, 2014).

At the nursing home, a majority of workers are part-time employees. This means that they have other jobs that they attend permanently just as in my case. Working under such a situation makes it extremely difficult for one to achieve a work-life balance, especially when working with a charting system that consumes much of a practitioner’s time and energy. Studies have established that healthcare facilities that have integrated the electronic records system in their workplace tend to experience improved efficiency of services and increased productivity of the employees almost immediately (Magruder, Adams, Pohto, & Smith, 2018). I believe that adopting this technology will also help the nursing home to reduce its cost of operation due to a lowered need for paperwork, less duplication of tests, as well as enhanced safety of patient health information.

Despite all the benefits that the nursing home will get when they transition from the paper charting system to the electronic health records system, there are several challenges associated with the technology. One major challenge is the potential change in the level of interaction between a caregiver and the patient. However, studies on the effectiveness of this technology have shown that patients have positive feedback regarding its effectiveness (Wang et al., 2018). Another notable challenge that the nursing home is likely to encounter is the high cost of installation, operation, and management compared to the paper charting system.

Since this will be a new element being introduced in the workplace, the nursing home will have to invest more in human resources that will train its employees on the new technology. Preparing employees for changes that are going to happen within the workplace plays a pivotal role in eliminating any instances of resistance that can end up compromising the whole process (Magruder et al., 2018). For example, some employees at the hospital have issues with the fact that this technology allows for centralized storage of medical records, which means that they are accessible as a whole unlike in the traditional file system that had greater autonomy. Such issues can lead some employees into resisting the introduction of the new technology for fear that it might compromise the ethical code of conduct that governs their profession.

From my experience working at the hospital, the best advice I have for the nursing home is to start integrating the electronic health records system in the workplace as soon as possible. However, the necessary precautionary measures have to be taken to ensure that no employee feels threatened by the changes that the technology will bring. According to human resource management experts, it is important to ensure that all employees are involved and have a role to play in such a transition process within the workplace (Magruder et al., 2018). Since the employees at the nursing home are already used to the paper charting system, it is important to give them a proper orientation about the new technology as a way of giving them a sense of ownership in the electronic health records system (Noe, 2014).

Conclusion

The electronic health records system has propelled the delivery of health care services to a new level. It has made it easier for health information to be stored, updated, as well as transferred with ease and in a more secure manner. A practitioner in one state can access the health information of a patient that was treated in a different state and give the right kind of prescription. There is an urgent need for nursing homes in America to integrate this technology into their workplace. The transition process from the traditional paper charting system to this technology is quite expensive and demanding about training employees, as well as preparing to make them an integral part of the process. It is important to make employees, especially the old ones not feel that the new technology is coming to replace them within the workplace. Instead, they ought to be inducted into the numerous ways it will make their work easier, more effective, and enjoyable.

References

Magruder, J.A., Adams, B.S., Pohto, P., & Smith, T.L. (2018). Clinicians’ experiences of transition to electronic health records. Journal of College Counseling, 21.

Noe, R. (2014). Employee training & development, 5th Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Quinn, M., Forman, J., Harrod, M., Winter, S., Fowler, K., Krein, S.L., … Chopra, V. (2019). Electronic health records, communication and data sharing: Challenges and opportunities for improving the diagnostic process. Diagnosis (Berl), 6(3): 241-248.

Wang, J.K., Ouyang, D., Hom, J., Chi, J., & Chen, J.H. (2018). Characterizing electronic health record usage patterns of inpatient medicine residents using event log data. Plos One 14(2).