How can EMR help nurse practitioners?
With the fast-changing landscape of health and medicine, information technology has been the foundation of advancements in the field. Especially with the spread of Covid-19, the need for immediate access to patients’ information for efficient medical care became urgent.
For years, medical practitioners (including doctors, nurse practitioners, and lab technicians) have had to come up with solutions to make the process smooth and more reliable for both parties; the doctor and the patient. The EMR (electronic medical records) system has existed for years but has recently seen increased usage across the board in medicine. For thirty years, information technology was used for administrative purposes and to table lab reports.
Today it has been integrated into the clinical side of the healthcare industry due to the fervent need for an upheaval in the existing system. Nurse practitioners form the basis of the EMR system and the integration of this system has resulted in improved patient care.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are Masters or Doctorally prepared advanced practice nurses that can “diagnose and treat diseases and health conditions, educate and support patients who have health issues that range from simple to complex, and acute to chronic” (BCNPA). Nurse practitioners are a key component of the health industry and have come to depend on EMR to practice medicine effectively.
Nurse practitioners turn to EMR frequently to have their clinical, administrative and legal information met. Electronic medical records help nurse practitioners keep up to date about the patient’s history and make informed decisions about their care. Using electronic medical records equips the nurse practitioners to provide a better quality of care.
What is an Electronic Medical Record?
An electronic medical record (EMR) is the systematized collection of electronically stored health information in a digital format. The records consist of the medical history of the patient including lab reports, radiology reports, medication and updated immunization records, any allergies and personal statistics including weight, height, age, etc., and will also include billing information.
Medical practitioners including nurse practitioners have touted EMR as the key to improving medical care. Several studies conducted by stakeholders have also pointed to the fact that even though the process of updating medical records might seem cumbersome in the beginning, it ultimately enhances the experience of medical care between the hospital or care practitioners including nurse practitioners and their patients. This is why nurse practitioners are slowly warming up to the concept of maintaining vigilant electronic medical records and saving time in the longer run.
Impact of EMRs on Nursing Practices
There are several benefits of using electronic medical records:
Reduction of Errors: Electronic medical records can help reduce errors by a large margin. Computerized physician orders have helped lessen errors in interpretation caused by poor handwriting and transcription errors. Electronic medical records often signal using red flags or hard stops if the wrong order has been entered or the wrong dose of medicine has been ordered. The EMRs also flag abnormal test results so that they aren’t missed by the practitioner, lessening the margin of error.
Some EMRs also features barcode scanning which can help identify the correct patient, the right medication, and the right time for it. Also, EMRs can help in avoiding missing out on any significant aspect of healthcare delivery such as signaling if some note has been left incomplete or an order hasn’t been sent out. Therefore, electronic medical records can help lessen the margin of human errors that can be made by anyone.
Standardization: Electronic medical records can ensure standard record-keeping across the board, such as staff and physician notes, assessment findings, and on-time orders.
Enhanced accessibility: EMRs for nurses can help them access medical records easily. This is especially useful for nurses who are working remotely. EMRs can be cloud-based, which means they can be accessed by nurses from anywhere in the world. If there is a telemedicine or telehealth emergency, nurses can access the health records by simply logging on with their credentials and addressing the problem at hand swiftly and efficiently.
Enhanced Privacy and Security: EMRs are secure. The risk of hacking is low because this software is encrypted and HIPAA compliant. Paper records can be at high risk for privacy breaches, as they can be handled by anyone in the office. EMRs can only be accessed by the right people who are authorized to do so.
Furthermore, flags are set up if there has been an attempt at a security breach. You can sometimes see who accessed which record last as well. Also, if the information is shared, it is shared digitally in a secure fashion.
EMRs for Nurse Practitioners in the age of Telemedicine
Telemedicine saw a breakthrough in 2020. With the spread of Covid-19, it became difficult for the healthcare industry to keep normal patient care going. Even important surgeries had to be pushed back to address the influx of Covid-19 hospitalizations, where entire hospitals had to be converted to Covid-19 wards, and the EMR system together with Telemedicine became the need of the hour.
Since a lot of hospital and clinic information was already online, the transition was relatively seamless. Nurse practitioners could now practice telemedicine without having the patient present in person, and assist, diagnose and provide a treatment plan for them. Without the EMR system, this might not have been impossible, but certainly very hectic to achieve.
Without EMRs, telemedicine solution may not have been achievable, at least not at the standard of care that is possible now. Remote medical care by nurse practitioners saved countless trips to the ER and helped nurse practitioners offer counseling and education to patients at home.
How to Choose the Best EMR for Nurse Practitioners
While the documentation is essential for a smooth workflow, the kind of software the nurse practitioners have to use is also pertinent to the accuracy and ease of the documentation process.
There might be a few things to keep in mind while choosing an EMR software, for example, how friendly and easy it is to use, what kind of support is available and is it integrated, would it be possible for the software to help different departments of the hospital to communicate through it and how often is it updated?
While it may be exciting to get hold of the latest software, it is important that the IT department takes time to select one that is amenable to the nurse practitioners that work at their medical center.
While there’s no denying the EMR system is the future of medical practices, we must make the process of transition as smooth and workable for nurse practitioners as possible. This will bring astounding efficiency and precision in patient care and could quite possibly change medicine forever.
Dr. Josh is a physician who's helping spread the knowledge about Telehealth and its advantages. At SmartClinix, he's providing his expertise and knowledge in the form of engaging articles on various health & tech related topics.