Nurses: health IT improves care

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A new study indicates that nurses believe health IT has strong potential to improve patient care but cite significant challenges to realizing its full potential. The Nurses Talk Tech — coordinated by healthcare technology and services company CDW Healthcare — evaluated the responses of more than 550 nurses in the United States.
   
“In this first-of-its-kind study of how nurses view the technology they use on the job, we learned that those on the front lines of care delivery embrace the power of information technology to help improve the speed and quality of patient care,” said Bob Rossi, general manager for CDW Healthcare. “Nurses even went so far as to say that the quality of a medical facility’s technology is a deciding factor for where they will work.”
   
According to the results, 86 percent of respondents believe that health IT has the potential to improve the quality of patient care. Cited reasons include improving access to patient information, boosting efficiency, and reducing errors. The nurses surveyed cite poor integration/interoperability, regular system failures, limited access to information and applications, and lack of training as the biggest hurdles to implementing IT systems where they work, according to the survey.
   
Forty-four percent of respondents indicated that they spend three or more hours a day using IT for various functions, meaning that it is already a prominent tool in their jobs. Of the types of IT used: 69 percent use e-mail; 60 percent document medical records electronically; and 50 percent of all respondents use it to order patient tests and prescriptions via computer-based physician order entry (CPOE).
   
Additionally, nearly 90 percent of respondents work on desktop systems and 21 percent use notebook computers. Use of handheld devices is less common, with just nine percent using the portable devices and only three percent using a tablet.
   
Other results:

  • Sixty-four percent of respondents indicated that IT is an important consideration when deciding where to work, and 26 percent said they would not consider working in a healthcare organization without it;
  • Fifty-five percent responded that more professional training and/or professional development would help. Nearly 30 percent of respondents received no IT training in the last year, and 56 percent received between one and eight hours; and
  • Nurses are more likely to be consulted in the IT selection and/or implementation process than physicians, with 36 percent indicating that nurse managers and/or staff nurses are involved in the selection and/or implementation process compared to 14 percent who indicated physicians are consulted.