Computer charting was a disappointment and believe it or not, I miss pen and paper
#1. Slow computing
Looking up information in a computer should be easy but you are still at the mercy of your machine’s speed. You have to wait until the information is downloaded to the screen and pray the computer is running fast that day.
EHR systems will slow you down. If you go away for 5 minutes, the system will log you out, you have to log in again and again. If you are in a hurry, the system slows down even further for some reason. Very frustrating.
The system does not follow a nurse’s workflow – it has its own mind and dictates how things should be done according to (who knows). Software creators have little or no idea of what working on the floor actually is.
#2. Slow Internet
Part of the problem is that most electronic charting systems are cloud based or internet based; the information resides in a remote server. The speed of your system will depend on the speed of your given Internet connection or worse, your WiFi connection. Sometimes there are down times due to maintenance and you’ll not be able to access the system for hours.
#3. Way too many clicks
This is one of the biggest problem with the software – it takes an excessive amount of clicking to perform any given action. For every piece of documentation there are too many windows to open and in each window require several options to click.
This is not only time consuming but a health hazard as excessive clicking can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, specially if you are in a hurry which is often the case.
There is a disparity between how much time is spent documenting and documentation priority. For example: you are required to chart 99% on something that only happens 1% of the time. It makes my job one hour longer per shift.
#4. Never ending charting
My biggest criticism of EHR charting is that instead of simplifying the work, it does the opposite. Most information nurses need to enter are redundant and useless and add nothing to the patient’s well being.
Instead of dedicating their time to patient care, nurses are forced to create complex and detailed spreadsheets for administrators to see. This is unfortunate.
I you have a busy shift and need to stay away from the computer things can get worse. When you finally have time to look at the screen there will be thousands or red flags you need to spend more time correcting. It is like the computer is punishing you for not doing things on time the computer’s time that is.
When you work with paper and pen you can be as fast as you want and you are in control. With EHR you are at the mercy of the computer, or the system your employer was sold.
#5. Making older nurses obsolete
Older nurses are being forced into obsolesce because of computer charting. These are older nurses who are not technically inclined; which is fine because nurses are not suppose to be computer geeks.
These are nurses with excellent patient care and people skills, but are barred from nursing because they can’t work with computer charting. They are ostracized by younger nurses and administrators. We are basically taking years of nurses experience and flushing it down the toilet.
#6. Too much information
Information is good to a point. If data entry takes time away from patient care one must evaluate the cost and necessity of this information.
The price is footed to the patient in the form of less time and attention. With electronic charting sometimes if feels like we are doing computer work rather than patient work. But nurses are not alone.
Doctors, administrators, therapists all suffer with the data overload work, and the time consuming madness of entering questionable useful information.
Changing the face of nursing
Nurses feel like their job today is more like data entry rather than patient care. The public too feel like nurses are always in front of a computer.
It’s kind of like: one minute with the patient and 5 minutes in the computer. It is a loss for the patients that not only have to compete for the nurse’s time with other patients but now they have to compete with computers.
There are certainly good things in electronic charting. For once It eliminate the need to read doctors’ orders. Provided they know how to type because we know they don’t know how to write.
The other good thing is that all the information is in one spot and can be easily retrieved. Communications between facilities, labs, can provide comprehensive care as other health care worker’s data can be shared over a network. Not always possible presently, but will probably be possible in a near future.
Writing nurses notes can be more accurate and again, we don’t have read other people’s hand writing.
In the end of the day computer charting and EHR is in its infancy but is hear to stay. We have to remind ourselves that its implementation was only done about 5 years ago. As technology improves, computer charting will be more efficient. Right now we are just in a trial faze and having to iron out the kinks.
Computers are perfect at repeating tasks without any errors. But computers might be making us more dumb in the long run. But because computers create systems in which everyone relies, they give people the impression of security and safety, and that is not always the case.
The more information is stored an accessed by computer systems, less is the need for human intervention. Our reliance in computer database can make us more disconnected to knowing the whole process and understanding how the parts fit together.
It is fundamental for good and safe patient care that we evaluate if the data overload we spend so much energy gathering is of any real value and contribute to the well being of our patients in the end.
- Electronic Health Records Documentation in Nursing: Nurses’ Perceptions, Attitudes, and Preferences
- Evaluating the Impact of Computerized Clinical Documentation
- Informatics: The Electronic Health Record: Will Nursing Be on Board When the Ship Leaves?
- ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORD IMPLEMENTATION IN NURSING PRACTICE: A LITERATURE REVIEW OF THE FACTORS OF SUCCESS