It’s no secret that the process of implementing new technologies into a hospital is often costly and time consuming. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that many hospitals don’t spend the proper amount of time and resources on proper implementation or installation, causing expensive bumps down the road. Hospitals also sometimes fail to consider the end-user when evaluating new technologies, which can lead to a workflow burden after installation has been completed. Bringing nurses, and the valuable insights they offer, into the fold early can lead to a more successful implementation.
Technology Itself Isn’t the Issue
More often than not, nurses’ dissatisfaction with new technologies stems from factors such as insufficient training and questionable workflows, rather than from the technology itself. Beyond hiccups that may exist within the technology, it’s the process, workflow, and implementation challenges that can decrease both patient safety and provider satisfaction—which is a vicious cycle to break.
Rebecca Freeman, PhD, RN, PMP, and Chief Nursing Officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, sees this problem daily in her interactions with nurses across the country. In a blog post, Freeman argues, “It’s these policies and processes that are critical for an EHR to make a nurse’s life easier, rather than more difficult.”
How Nurses Can Contribute
When incorporated into the evaluation and implementation process for these new technologies, nurses are able to offer insights into training plans, optimize workflows, and reduce obstacles to delivering excellent patient care. Specifically, Freeman outlines the following roles and ways nurses can support tricky IT implementations:
- Bedside Nurses – Have extensive knowledge regarding workflows and how to identify and solve problems. They use technology on a daily basis and can advise how to maximize the hospital’s investment.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurses – Familiar with how health IT benefits patient care and positioned to provide valuable input.
- Nursing Leadership Team – Able to understand the need to balance data and analytics with streamlined IT from a user perspective. Nurse leaders offer valuable assistance in designing dashboards or templates, and garnering support or engagement from the nursing staff.
- Nurse Educators – Proficient at evaluating and leveraging the crossover between clinical processes and health IT proficiency and training to ensure proper documentation is carried out.
- Nursing Informaticists – Offer a holistic perspective on what is needed in the way of workflows, technical knowledge, and training before a new IT installation. They also help translate provider needs into specific requests for the IT team, and help test and ensure the intended result meets the needs of the clinical end user.
- Clinical Analysts – Help build the system and manage databases from within the IT setting while offering a unique clinical perspective on build design, quality and testing.
In addition to including nurses in health IT implementations, Freeman urges hospitals to remember that any HIT installation is more than just the IT components. Including end users in implementation, design and reporting is essential to ensure these tools perform as intended with optimal clinical benefits. According to Freeman, “Success is often less about the ‘IT’ itself and more about implementation, documentation, culture, analytics, training, workflows, and interdisciplinary engagement.”