Health information Technology, EHRs, Meaningful Use, and Nursing

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

If you’re like most nurses working in a health care organization, you’ve been involved in a migration to electronic health records, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), or bar code medication administration.

If you’re lucky, nursing input was considered during the planning stages of all this health information technology (HIT). We’ve heard from many nurses (and have had a few submissions from nurses about their experiences—see for example the Reflections essay “Paper Chart Nurse”) who have had “issues” with the systems or who wonder, why the big push?

In the August issue of AJN, which is available online and on the iPad (download the app here), Susan McBride and colleagues John Delaney and Mari Tietze debut their three-part series on HIT. The first article, “Health Information Technology and Nursing,” examines the federal policies behind efforts to expand the use of this technology, the importance of meaningful use, and the implications for nurses. Subsequent articles upcoming in the fall will take a closer look at the use of HIT to improve patient safety and quality of care, and the important role nurses are playing—and could play—in this system-wide initiative.

It’s crucial for nurses to understand HIT. As the authors note,

“If HIT systems are going to truly improve care, nurses need a voice in their planning and development to ensure patient safety and system usability. The success of this technology depends on nurses informing the […]

What Is Meaningful Use? One Savvy Nurse’s Take

By Jared Sinclair, an ICU nurse in Nashville who has a blog about health care and technology

If you follow health care news regularly, and yet you still feel unsure what “meaningful use” means and how it will affect your job as a nurse, then you have something in common with even the most knowledgeable people on the subject. Despite the fact that discussion of meaningful use among health care IT and informatics folks has reached a fever pitch since the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act was passed last February, in many ways we are no closer to understanding how it will change health care than when discussion first began.

What do we know for sure? The HITECH Act promises incentive payments to providers and hospitals that use electronic health records in ways that meet a minimum set of requirements called “meaningful use.” That sounds simple enough; however, there isn’t just one set of requirements. The criteria for meaningful use will come in three stages, and the requirements for stages two and three have yet to be determined. This is why your local hospital’s nurse informaticists may be less than enthusiastic about the next five years of their jobs. They bear the responsibility for preparing their hospitals for huge changes—without the luxury of knowing what those changes […]

2016-11-21T13:15:16+00:00 October 14th, 2010|digital health, Nursing|2 Comments

Hospital Execs Assert They’re ‘Scared to Death’ by Reform Measures

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN interim editor-in-chief

On Friday, at the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) meeting in Chicago, I attended a session in which a panel of hospital executives discussed how their facilities would be affected by health care reform. They weren’t really sure of anything except that they’d probably lose money.

The panel included Richard Gamelli of Stritch School of Medicine and the Loyola University Health System, Jeffrey Hillebrand from NorthShore University HealthSystem, and Jim Skogsbergh from Advocate Health Care.

Skogsbergh was the most dire: “I’m scared to death about health care reform and I’m not sure how it will all shake out. The only thing I do expect is to that I’m going to get paid a lot less.” An attendee asked if hospitals would do better now that patients they cared for as charity patients would have health insurance under the new law. Gamelli answered that that depended on the insurance. Currently, he said, his facility is only reimbursed for 90% of costs incurred by Medicaid patients and 50% of those incurred by Medicare patients.

Where’s the innovation? The session was disappointing in that it was mostly about how these megahospital systems would deal with the financial implications. It would have been interesting to have a perspective from a small community hospital. And other than a program mentioned by Hillebrand to try to reduce hospital readmissions among patients with chronic disease, there seemed to be little focus on finding new approaches to cutting costs through improving quality.