Electronic Health Records Provide a Link Between Patient Data and Care Outcomes

July 13, 2018

Electronic health records (EHRs) can offer so much more than a way to keep all processes and procedures linked to a patient.

Christina Boord, BSN, RN, OCN®, clinical practice and education specialist at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Cori Kopecky, MSN, RN, OCN®, clinical development specialist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, discussed electronic health records, patient data, and outcomes during a session at the 43rd Annual Congress in Washington, DC.

Nurses are intimately familiar with ERHs’ ability to organize data. Patient health records, pharmacy systems, research and registry databases, billing and scheduling, and medical devices are often kept in EHR.

Boord and Kopecky said that EHRs increase a patient’s visibility across the continuum of care and that they are more than just a “digital version” of a patient’s paper chart—EHRs link providers, patients, research, and health databases.

EHRs inform patients of their own health care, measure patient outcomes, evaluate the healthcare process, and evaluate structure of providers, organizations, and facilities.

The three main components to EHRs are:

The speakers noted that from a nurse’s perspective, EHRs can be helpful because they provide greater access to information and real-time documentation.

In the instance of hybrid systems (e.g., the laboratory uses a different data system), institutions will need to ensure a way to bridge the systems, providing all disciplines with the most complete and updated information.

Flowsheets specifically for oncology can be done through EHR, which helps to prevent anecdotal variation in practice and inconsistent information.

MD Anderson Cancer Center started its transition to fully using its EHR in 2012 and went live in March 2016. To achieve success, the system needed to be a collaboration between providers and interdisciplinary team members, including nursing informatics and EHR analysts, direct patient care representatives, and patients and caregivers.

Staff included graduate nurses, rotating medical staff (e.g., residents), current employees, and new hires who can learn the functionality of the system and use it immediately, the speakers said.

MD Anderson’s EHR contains reports and compliance for:

Although EHRs are beneficial for linking patient data to care outcomes, cost could be a barrier in having a system-wide EHR program, as well as the lack of commitment in using the system. A willingness to change clinical and business processes is integral to an EHR's success, Boord and Kopecky said.

Copyright © 2018 by the Oncology Nursing Society. User has permission to print one copy for personal or unit-based educational use. Contact pubpermissions@ons.org for quantity reprints.