Smiling nurse with tablet

Let’s Not Forget About Nurses: The Nurse EHR Experience

The Arch Collaborative focuses on how to make the EHR experience better for end users in organizations across the country. Organizations are eager to learn how to improve satisfaction among their physicians, but is enough attention being given to nurses?

Nurses use different functionality than physicians, and they experience a lot more face-to-face time with patients, so communication and documentation in charting are critical. We also explain in our Arch Collaborative Guidebook that nurses work better in organizations that engender teamwork.

But often, because nurses and physicians work in different environments and have different needs, a lot of the focus that is given to physicians doesn’t benefit nurses as much. A lot of organizations allocate resources to improve physicians’ experience, and physicians get support from technology or people so that they can best use the EHR.

But in our Nurse EHR Experience 2020 report, we explain how it is good to view the specific needs of nurses that are sometimes different or overlooked by organizations. Designated time, resources, and IT expertise for nurses are just as important as they are for physicians.

Nurses Experience Burnout and Dissatisfaction Too

On average, nurses tend to report higher EHR satisfaction than physicians, but that doesn’t mean that nurses don’t ever feel burned out. The greatest contributors to burnout are a chaotic work environment, too much time spent on bureaucratic tasks, and a lack of effective teamwork.

We found varying levels of dissatisfaction depending on what areas nurses worked in. For example, nurses who float between inpatient and outpatient areas are less satisfied, probably because they are using two different systems with different functionalities, even if they are both from the same vendor. Organizations could improve nurses’ satisfaction and reduce burnout by adjusting workflows to make things more standardized where possible.

Similarly, we found that nurses in more specialized environments are usually less satisfied. One interesting thing that stood out to us in this report was that perinatal and PICU/NICU nurses are less satisfied than nurses in other focus areas.

That just goes to show how much satisfaction varies by specialty because different nurses use different functionalities. The nurses in the surgical and acute care areas have higher satisfaction scores than nurses in other specialties because the EHR is more developed with them in mind. The more that nurses have to adapt to the system’s functionality, the more the nurses’ efficiency is affected and their satisfaction declines.

What Some Organizations Are Doing to Help

Although nurses sometimes do feel overlooked, some organizations are making the effort to alleviate the primary contributors of burnout. In the report, we cite a couple of case studies specifically about things organizations have done to help nurses.

Some organizations are rounding or improving initial training. Those efforts help nurses feel more supported. Nurses with high EHR satisfaction are much more likely to report that the initial training was helpful and effective, and the rounding is a good example of adding a resource that the nurses find highly valuable.

With rounding, in-person trainers help nurses incorporate the system’s functionality into their workflow. The trainers are present and available within the nurses’ actual working environment, and sometimes those trainers can help pinpoint things that nurses can do to improve efficiency and system functionality that maybe the nurses didn’t even know to ask for help with. Having the trainers in context really matters.

The Main Takeaway for Leaders

Organizations need to look at nurses differently than they do physicians, and it is important to focus on improving nurse satisfaction since nurses comprise the majority of organizations’ staff. Some organizations are very mindful of their nurses and invite their CNIOs to discuss things with us on the phone. Other organizations could be doing more for their nurses, and this report is meant to be a call to action.

The best thing organizational leaders can do with this report is look through the charts and identify specific pain points at their organization, whether that pain point relates to a specific nursing area or a specific part of the tool that the nurses are struggling with.

Naturally, organizations have limited resources and can apply only so many of them to improving things for nurses. But if organizational leaders can look at the information in the report and see what options would make the most sense for their nurses, that can help organizations be more effective with the resources they already do have to help nurses where they are hurting.

To learn more about the data we collected on nurse satisfaction and to pinpoint ways in which your organization can better support nurses, be sure to read the report.