What LTC nurses want from EHRs

What features do electronic heath record (EHR) systems need to offer to long-term care? Just ask the nurses.

The long-term/post-acute care Chief Information Officer (CIO) Consortium and the Nurse Executive Council got together to decide just that, and they discovered that most EHR systems aren’t really built to handle long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) settings. In fact, it's not even close.

“We’ve automated what we’ve always done,” said Scott Ranson, vice president and CIO of Brookdale Living, while presenting the panel group’s findings at the 2013 LTPAC Health IT Summit. “No one has gotten together with nurses and built it from the ground up. Banks can move billions around the world in seconds, but we can’t get our blood pressure values from one place to another. It’s ludicrous that we haven’t been able to solve these problems by now.” The report, "Electronic Health Record Solutions LTPAC Providers Need Today," is the first to combine insights on the EHR topic from both the CIO and the LTPAC nursing perspectives.

A good LTPAC EHR should be a robust enabler for quality, using an extendible platform that can handle various clinical contexts. The LTPAC EHR also must be resilient and collaboration-ready, say the researchers. Above all, the LTPAC EHR must be able to handle the unique care situations and the holistic, person-centered approaches to care specific to long-term and post-acute care, an industry sector that is increasingly involving team-based care.

“A good systems vendor doesn’t just ‘hear’ what the client says they want; they figure out how to make it better," Ranson said. But as a session attendee added, “It’s not just about getting the data in to the system, It’s also about getting data back out.”

And, Ranson adds, "No 'EHR-lite.'" EHR systems that merely cobble together functionality to serve the LTPAC community in the short-term will become obsolete by 2016, the report predicts.

Nurses and IT directors recognize the workflow disconnects between what caregivers need to do and what the IT systems need to capture. The leveling facts: No vendor is right for every provider, and no provider is a great fit for every vendor, the expert panel agreed.

But getting it done is still a challenge. “There will be those who will figure it out and those who won’t figure it out. You have to decide what side you’ll be on,” Ranson said.

Read the complete report at www.ltpachealthit.org.

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