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Experiences with electronic health records: Early adopters in long-term care facilities

Cherry, Barbara J.; Ford, Eric W.; Peterson, Lori T.

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e31820e110f
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Background: Electronic health records (EHRs) are becoming a required technology across the health care sector. Long-term care (LTC) facilities have lagged other settings in adopting health information technologies but represent an area where significant care coordination benefits might be realized. Nevertheless, managers face many of the same challenges implementing EHRs that exist in other environments when implementing enterprise-wide systems.

Purposes: This study was conducted to provide a description of the early users' experiences with EHRs in LTC facilities.

Methodology: Semistructured interviews were conducted. The 10 sites were all the "freestanding" LTC facilities using an EHR as of July 2008 in Texas. The interview respondents included administrators, nursing managers, nurses, certified nurse aides, and other system users. Semistructured interviews across multiple stakeholders were used to assess constructs critical to EHR adoption and implementation.

Findings: The LTC facility employees who work with EHR systems on a daily basis were positive about their experiences. In particular, operational improvements were achieved through increased access to resident information, cost avoidance, increased documentation accuracy, and implementation of evidence-based practices.

Practice Implications: Overall, administrators believed that the systems improved care quality and employee satisfaction and were cost effective and that the EHR made a positive return on investment. Electronic documentation led to both increases in charge capture related to resource utilization group documentation, significant savings in pharmacy waste, and reductions in nursing overtime as medical record management became more automated. Quality improvement came from computer-aided monitoring of the certified nurse aide's attendance to residents' activities of daily living.

Barbara J. Cherry, DNSc, MBA, RN, is Department Chair, Anita Thigpen Perry School of Nursing, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock. Email: Barbara.Cherry@ttuhsc.edu.

Eric W. Ford, MPH, PhD, is Forsyth Medical Center Distinguished Professor, Department of Business Administration, Bryan School of Business and Economics, University of North Carolina Greensboro. E-mail: ewford@uncg.edu.

Lori T. Peterson, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Nance College of Business, Cleveland State University, Ohio. Email: L.Peterson@csuohio.edu.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.