Communication gaps

September 2015   Comments

I work in a technical environment and consider myself knowledgeable about technology. Regarding the article on nurses’ experiences with using an EHR (Feature, June), I am concerned no mention was made of discussions the study participants had with clients. I assume those discussions didn’t happen.

Several years ago, I was taking daily medication for a chronic health problem when I was admitted to a local hospital for knee replacement surgery. EHR use was in the early stages at this time. I asked repeatedly for the correct dose of my medication, but the information had been entered incorrectly into the EHR. It took my asking to see the nurse manager to get the problem corrected. Staff had been looking at the screen, not at me. I felt left out and not listened to. I did not feel cared for and I couldn’t wait to go home.

This experience made me think about my own practice. When I returned to work, I altered the way I spoke with clients and how I collected data. The point of my story? Patients and clients are a source of knowledge. They are part of the health-care team and must be involved in any decision-making that is occurring. An EHR is just a tool; it’s certainly useful but only if people feel they can talk to and ask questions of staff.

One other thought: changes in technology occur sometimes without anyone checking with the end-users to find out what they need. We won’t be successful in implementing technology unless we involve everyone on the team.

– Barbara Steele, RN, M.H.Sc.
London, Ont.

I have worked in many different settings, on three different continents. My experience with the implementation of EHR systems in Canada is that they are a huge failure because the agencies delivering health care bring in systems that attempt to drive, rather than support, nursing practice. If you ask nurses about the electronic devices they have in their homes, their answers would demonstrate that the failure of EHR implementation has little to do with personal attitudes toward technology.

We need more nurses involved in EHR projects at the decision-making level to ensure that the systems do support practice. Nurses deserve to have adequate training and ongoing support for the implementation of EHR systems. The health industry (we used to call it the health-care system) is focused on economics. Curiously though, no one seems to be auditing the billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money spent on e-health and the lamentable results achieved to date.

– Doreen McConachie, RN, BSN
Victoria, B.C.

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