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Benefits of Health Information Technology for Nurse Practitioners

Image of two hands with a dozen icons that represent information hovering above them

Recent technological advancements have drastically changed how care providers manage data and deliver services. [1] For this reason, both entry-level and experienced nurses continually learn new technologies, while nursing schools develop innovative curriculums that serve the new caregiving environment. The most notable changes have occurred in the field of healthcare information technology (HIT), where providers use powerful software and hardware to manage patient records. By combining HIT with electronic health records (EHRs) and administrative data, organizations perform more efficiently. Practitioners of informatics use HIT to maximize the utility of EHRs to store, analyze and make critical decisions using real-time patient data. The following benefits represent the latest operational improvements realized through health information technology.

Increased Patient Safety

Care providers that have implemented HIT and EHR systems have experienced significant safety improvements due to the real-time information accessibility afforded to all stakeholders. [2] Additionally, these technologies allow researchers to analyze information with extraordinary detail and accuracy.

Improved Scheduling

Many unforeseen and counterproductive circumstances may arise during a typical care provider workday, which is compounded when staffing shortages occur. To mitigate this risk, healthcare managers use a technology called resource-demand management that analyzes caseload information and staff availability. A similar technology, workforce-management solutions, performs largely the same tasks, while also helping managers control costs and service quality.

Reduced Test and Procedure Redundancy

Electronic health records (EHRs) simplify patient information sharing; eliminating redundant testing and procedures and reducing discomfort, inconvenience, medical expenses and risks. [3] Using this technology, patients can immediately authorize access to timely and relevant information that is needed by their caregivers.

Efficient Care Coordination

Easy access to information facilitates collaboration among multiple care providers. This transparency helps to eliminate errors and risks, such as conflicting prescriptions and treatments. Care providers use monitoring technology to trigger alerts when such discrepancies arise in patients’ electronic health records.

Faster Lab Results

Electronic health records allow caregivers to retrieve patient information faster than conventional methods, facilitating timely test scheduling and treatment. [4] Furthermore, caregivers can access test results as soon as they become available.

Increased Patient Information Accessibility

By law, American citizens have the right to access their own medical information to check for, and correct, errors and omissions. [3] To this end, some care providers offer patients online access to their medical records. This practice increases information transparency and in many cases enables patients to more quickly find answers to their questions.

Enhanced Performance Analysis

While EHRs greatly reduce drug errors, some mistakes still occur. [5] Errors typically happen while administering, dispensing, prescribing or transcribing medications. Electronic information management allows caregivers to identify areas for improvement and increase patient safety.

Streamlined Records Administration

Electronic health records replace the paper charts historically used during care provider visits. [3] As more providers adopt EHR technology, patients will be asked less frequently to fill out information during visits, because providers will already have current data on file. Furthermore, EHRs streamline the traditional intake process, which can sometimes seem excessive for relatively minor medical needs. EHRs also reduce errors by making current patient information immediately accessible to all network-connected care providers.

Reduced Hospital Stays

According to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, electronic record implementation reduces the time needed to assess fall victims by 20-percent, reducing patient stay times in those cases. [6] Likewise, the National Center for Policy Analysis reports that facilities using HIT systems reduce average patient stays from 5.7 days to 5.5 days. [4] This effectiveness has led researchers to explore other benefits to using electronic health records and HIT, such as whether telemonitoring can delay nursing home admittance among elderly patients.

Reduced Operational Costs

Cost reduction represents one criterion for satisfying the Triple Aim objective of the Agency for Health Research and Quality. [7] Healthcare information technology plays a key role in significantly reducing operational costs. Caregiving organizations that incorporate health information technology often see significant cost savings within the first year of implementation.

Proponents of healthcare information technology assert that these innovations offer many benefits to both care providers and patients. [4] However, the benefits have yet to produce results measuring up to the expectations of many healthcare advocates. While the technology produces remarkably better organizational performance, not all innovations always perform the way their developers anticipated.

A large reason for HIT underperformance lies in the current shortage of technology-skilled talent. In the U.S., roughly 15 million job seekers cannot secure employment, despite actively pursuing work opportunities. To fill this need and elevate the healthcare field to its highest possible performance level, employers and medical technology schools must work together to train and nurture new talent. Once trained, America’s budding HIT professionals must then answer the call to fill what labor analysts are forecasting to be the largest looming talent gap — or the fastest growing area of opportunity — in the nation’s history.

Learn More

Family nurse practitioners play a major role in today’s health care field. The responsibilities of FNPs have evolved alongside that of physicians, which means additional opportunities, autonomy, and authority. At Regis, our online Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner degree can help you develop the specialized skill set you need to practice at the advanced level.

Sources

[1] The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology
[2] American Nurse Today – Using technology to make evidence-based staffing assignments
[3] HealthIT.gov – Information Technology in Health Care
[4] NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS
[5] The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
[6] HealthIT.gov – Improved Diagnostics & Patient Outcomes
[7] American Nurse Today – Using technology to make evidence-based staffing assignments