Patient Health IT Observations and Thanks to Nurses!

I often have an overwhelming sense of guilt that I work in the healthcare industry, but am not a clinician nor have I ever had an Inpatient experience to gain a clinical perspective. There are many out there that will say I am ill-equipped to do my work because of this; however I do my best to stay versed of clinical and IT literature. I know many of you Healthcare IT consultants out there do the same to compensate for the lack of a clinical background. As a side note, if any of you have recommended reading, send my way, I would love to take a gander.

I digress.  Back to my dilemma of a lack of clinical background or Inpatient experience. This changed when my mother was recently and unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer resulting in a bi-lateral mastectomy and an Inpatient overnight stay. Before I move on, she is doing extremely well and rapidly kicking cancer. I stayed with her throughout her time in pre-op until she was discharged the next day and to my delight, in the midst of worry, her hospital just recently went live on their EMR. I reveled in the chance to see an EMR in action and following are a few of my observations:

Patients are weary of filling out the same forms and don’t really care that you just went live on your EMR. If you or a family member are a cancer patient, you know that you have to visit the hospital, your primary care physician, your oncologist, general surgeon, plastic surgeon, radiologist . . . and you’re filling out forms with your medical history every time. I’m yawning at this problem that doesn’t seem be going away anytime soon. However, the offices that did have an EMR (plastic surgeon!) were a breeze. Filling out medical history forms online was slick and oh so, convenient!

I’ve read quite a bit of literature detailing concerns about doctor patient interactions or the lack thereof during the use of an EMR. During my mother’s experience, she didn’t feel ignored or disconnected from physicians or nurses charting while speaking with her. She appreciated the ability to sign her consent forms on a tablet PC and felt like clinicians had a more complete picture of her case and medical history. Ah ha Mom you are right! Or right in an ideal Healthcare IT world.

Now, for my last observation: Nurses. I’d like to reference an article written by Mr. HIStalk in May of 2006 titled “Vendors Should Make Software that Crusty Night Shift Nurses Can Love.” Ok, hold, laugh break real quick hahaha because that title has me in stitches.  The premise of his article is that nurses are paid to care for patients and are talented at such as opposed to being expert computer users andthat vendors should make EMRs easier to use. All my friends who are nurses complain constantly about EMR charting. During my mom’s day and night in the hospital (yep, I was on the hospital cot – so comfy – insert eye roll here) not one nurse used the computer in the room with the EMR right there. Each of them pulled the little paper out of their scrubs, wrote down her vitals, medication, etc. and charted it later at the nursing station. But the chart is right there next to the bed! Oh, woe is me, please use the computer. I was disappointed to see this and would agree with Mr. HIStalk. Come on vendors, make a nurse friendly EMR.

Finally, a big thank you to the eighth floor night nurses of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, ID for taking such good care of my mom. I forgive you for avoiding the computer at all cost.

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Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.

8 Comments

  • Kudos to you Cassie regarding this salute to nurses! You have inspired me to spend a couple hours this morning to write my next blog post (all related to also thanking nurses from my perspective as a “non-clinical” Healthcare IT (EMR) Consultant. I appreciate your honesty in expressing your ‘guilt’ of being in the healthcare industry as a non-clinician. I bet there are plenty of clinical professionals who feel guilty of being “non-technical”. I have found out regarding my observations that we all need each other to be successful in this field!

    Regards,
    Shirley Corsey

  • Thank you very much Shirley! Also, thank you for your comments that we all need each other to be successful. I didn’t really think of this when writing my post, but certainly appreciate it now. I am looking forward to reading your next post, Shirley!

  • Cassie,

    Thank you so much for sharing your very personal story with us. Like you, I came into our industry without a clinical background, and I’m inspired daily by our colleagues who can combine their clinical expertise with new technologies that are designed to make their jobs easier, and patients safer and healthier.

    Speaking of healthier – your mom looks fabulous! All the best to her and warm wishes for a very speedy recovery.

    G.

  • Oh my god, you IT people are so out of touch with reality in the health care “service” industry…….i.e. NURSES! So busy patting yourselves on the back for your “creation”………..The reason those nurses wrote stuff down and put it in their pocket is because it takes about one minute to load up the EMR and find your patient. There are other more important things to do like care for and monitor the patients. If I logged on everytime I went into the room…..that would be about 60 times a shift, equalling one hour per shift of time spent away from the patients! I can write vitals down in three seconds!And I won’t even tell you what a nightmare a med pass has become! Those nurses were waiting so they could log on once and put in all their information, thereby saving time. Nurses complain incessantly and so do physicians about the time contraints with EMR……Click click click, and tab, and click……..thousands of times a day! No one seems to be listening………I could go on and on……but I fear it is on deaf ears………..

  • Denise,

    Your comments do not fall on deaf ears. I’d like to address a couple items you mentioned in your comment and then make a request to you.

    First, at the end of this post, I sent a heart felt thank you to all the nurses that took care of my mother while she was in the hospital and really to all the nurses out there. You all are the true key to patients’ well being, care and recovery. And I agree that your focus should be on the patient, not on the EMR, a fact that is not lost on me.

    Secondly, I unfortunately think you may have misunderstood what I was trying to portray. I am saying here that EMR vendors and IT people should make their EMR products easy to use and efficient. It sounds like your EMR takes a full minute to upload? That’s inefficient and an issue that should be resolved so that you may do your job well. My message and the message of the article also mentioned at the beginning of my post is that IT folks are not serving their customers (clinicians) well and these products need improvements.

    But, we need your help, which brings me to my request. Denise, may I interview you for another post here at HealthcareITToday.com? I believe you have something to say to IT and EMR vendors (and your patients might, too) and I want to hear it and post it. We certainly can make you anonymous, too. If you are interested and willing, please email at cassie@cipeconsulting.com.

    Thank you Denise,
    Cassie

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