Application of Technology in Nursing and Patient Education
The emergence of digital technology and other web-based devices have transformed the way of life in today’s world. The medical profession is one of the fields that has been greatly impacted by the use of technology. An electronic health record (EHR) is one of the modern applications that have revolutionized the nursing profession, as well as the delivery of patient education (Charles, Gabriel, & Searcy, 2015). This essay seeks to discuss an EHR as an emergent technology in the medical profession, detailing its use, significance in nursing and patient education, attributes, as well as specific examples where it would be advantageous or disadvantages if used as a nursing education tool.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
An EHR consists of vital patients’ data that have been generated over time in a health care facility from previous visits. It includes records of immunization, patients’ medical history, demographics, and laboratory data among others. The adoption of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with the Health Information for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, is one of the ways the federal government is promoting the adoption of this technology in the healthcare profession (Charles et al., 2015).
Use of EHRs in Nursing and Patient Education
One of the critical roles of a nurse is assessing patients’ medical history (Hydari, Telang & Marella, 2015). This activity is often done by interviewing the patient or crosschecking his or her records archived physically in a medical facility. The two strategies can be imprecise and time-wasting. Nevertheless, the use of the electronic documentation of records has eased nurses’ job in accessing patients’ past medical history. The method is convenient because data can be retrieved from any location at any time of the day or night.
Another application of EHRs in the nursing profession is setting reminders to notify nurses about important health interventions they should be administered to their patients (Charles et al., 2015). The process of imparting health information to the latter by healthcare providers has also been enhanced by the use of EHRs. The education of patients helps them understand the status of their health and ways to improve and maintain a healthy lifestyle (Hydari et al., 2015). By using EHRs, it is possible to make patient-oriented education materials that are relevant and highly accurate in treating a medical condition.
The Significance of EHRs in Nursing and Patient Education
EHRs have greatly eased the efficiency of operations. For instance, in nursing, EHRs have enabled the provision of coordinated care. Secondly, EHRs save time and costs. A patient who has undergone various laboratory tests in a particular health care center may not need duplicate tests in other healthcare facility since his or her past medical records can be accessed using an EHR (Englebright, Aldrich & Taylor, 2014). Accessing patient’s medical history using the application is instantaneous unlike perusing paper records or interviewing patients in case of the loss of such files. In addition, patients’ past medical data are stored in the virtual electronic library where they cannot be lost. For these reasons, EHRs have greatly enhanced patient information delivery (Charles et al., 2015).
Attributes of Electronic Health Record Systems
EHRs improve the accessibility and availability of patients’ data anytime during the day and week from any location (Hydari et al., 2015). This feature is facilitated by the use of the web-based technology, which enables the online storage of data. Moreover, hurdles to acquiring data from physical libraries are eliminated in the process. The online system provides the absolute availability of patient medical records. Physicians who travel in their work can access patients’ records remotely and be in a position to make a correct diagnosis or offer advice to nurses on the ground.
EHRs ensure the accuracy of patients’ medical data because they are entered by qualified physicians or nurse practitioners (Charles et al., 2015). EHR systems can also accept information from devices that capture data, such as laboratory analysis equipment, patient monitors, and barcode readers. The information in the system remains intact unlike in case of paper records where it may be incomplete due to fading or missing pages.
In addition, EHRs are characterized by the security of patients’ medical data, since only the authorized personnel have access to such information. It complies with the recent Health Information for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (Englebright et al., 2014). All healthcare centers are also required to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to ensure the safety of patients’ information. In addition, records cannot be destroyed during calamities like a fire that could otherwise burn physical data completely, since EHRs are stored in virtual storage centers.
Costs are significant when using EHRs in a healthcare setting. They are relatively higher as compared to other methods of data storage. Such expenditures include the cost of purchasing the EHR system and the training of physicians and nurses on how to use it correctly. For instance, the Kansas Regional Extension Center (KFMC) paid $40,000 for the hardware and $30,000 for the software when adopting the EHR system in the medical facility (“Solo Family Practitioner,” 2013). However, costs saved by EHRs in the long run are higher than the ones of purchasing the system.
Advantages of Using EHRs as Education Tools
EHRs have broad use in the medical field. Conducting surveys of certain diseases by learning institutions is easy with the help of electronic records. For example, students planning to research the progress of diabetes among patients for the last five years will not be required to go through the long process of searching and interviewing people. Instead, they will just log into the system and access data from one single location (Charles et al., 2015). Researchers developing drugs can also monitor drugs’ effect on certain diseases through the use of EHRs.
Disadvantages of Using EHRs as Education Tools
The overreliance on EHRs as a patient education tool is a major drawback in the practice of offering patient education. The downtime of the system may critically affect the delivery of services. In addition, communicating information to the patient through e-mails or other electronic means lacks personal interaction essential to foster a good patient-doctor relationship. The use of EHRs can also be ineffective in relation to those patients who have limited accessibility to the Internet or with low literacy levels due to the advanced age (Englebright et al., 2014).
Standards and Competencies in the Use of EHRs
In 2003, the Institute of Medicine in 2003 endorsed the study of informatics as one of the competencies necesary for all healthcare providers. In addition, in 2008, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing identified the management of information and the use of patient care technologies as essential methods in the nursing education system (Charles et al., 2015). The development of EHR systems was facilitated by the Health Professional Network to ensure that healthcare providers meet the correct standards of delivering quality care. Therefore, the use of EHRs, which are part of the information technology, is in line with professional standards and competencies in the medical field.
The use of EHRs in the medical profession is of great significance in the storage of patient records and their retrieval. It has also facilitated a seamless practice of patient education. The system has diverse features, such as accuracy, reliability, availability and security, which are vital in handling patients’ medical data. The technology poses a wide range of benefits to caregivers and patients, but has several drawbacks, which need to be balanced to make the system effective. Ultimately, the use of EHRs also complies with the relevant medical practice standards as an effective application to be used in the medical profession.
Charles, D., Gabriel, M., & Searcy, T. (2015). Adoption of electronic health record systems among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals: 2008-2014. ONC Data Brief, 23, 1-10. Retrieved from https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/data-brief/2014HospitalAdoptionDataBrief.pdf
Englebright, J., Aldrich, K., & Taylor, C. R. (2014). Defining and incorporating basic nursing care actions into the electronic health record. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 46 (1), 50-57.
Hydari, M. Z., Telang, R., & Marella, W. M. (2015). Electronic health records and patient safety. Communications of the ACM, 58 (11), 30-32.
Solo family practitioner demonstrates care coordination with referring physicians. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/brull-case-study