Part of your nursing career will require you to properly utilize an EHR system.

A nurse reviewing a electronic medical record on a laptop computer.Electronic health records (EHRs) are no longer the future of healthcare. They’re now the status quo. If you’re a nurse, you’ll be spending a lot of your nursing career using them. So, what does that mean for you?

In most cases, you’ll be trained on how to properly enter and retrieve information in your employer’s EHR system. If you stay in the same job and same position, you won’t need to know too much more. But if you plan on advancing your nursing career, you may be expected to take additional responsibility for managing and optimizing an EHR system. In that case, simply knowing the approved way to enter and retrieve information won’t be enough.

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If you’re asked to make sure your team or group is making the best use of an EHR, you should follow EHR best practices. These include:

Make Sure the EHR Fits the Workflow for Your Group
Even in large hospital systems where everyone is on the same EHR, each group (e.g., primary care, surgery, ICU, etc.) tends to tweak or significantly customize the EHR for its own needs. Much of this customization has to do with making sure the functionality of the EHR aligns with the group’s workflow. If you’re in charge of implementing a new EHR or optimizing an existing one, you’ll want to make sure items like patient scheduling, patient check-in, and inner-office message management are ready and easy to access when they’re needed. A properly flowing EHR can help everyone stay efficient and effective.

Monitor the Coordination of Patient Care
EHRs allow everyone within a group to directly communicate with everyone else. Most EHRs also allow you to send out prescriptions and test orders and receive test results directly into the patient chart. When used properly, these communication systems keep everyone on the team fully informed and reduce the likelihood of unnecessary treatments, duplicate tests, and delays in responding to patient needs. But to make sure your group is reaping these benefits, you must regularly monitor care coordination. If things appear uncoordinated and/or if a lot of mistakes are being made due to miscommunication, it’s likely people aren’t using the EHR system properly or the system isn’t optimized.

Keep Staff Trained, but Only on What They Need to Use
EHR systems are regularly updated, so if you’re in charge of ensuring a nursing team is making the best use of the system, you’ll need to keep the team trained. However, make sure training focuses only on what the team will actually use. EHRs have a lot of capabilities and trying to get everyone to understand every element will create confusion.

Become a Super User
In EHR parlance, a super user is a user who knows the system thoroughly. If you’re in charge of helping to manage the system, being a super user will help you know exactly what your system is capable of and what it is not. That, in turn, can help you make sure your group is making the best use of it.

Listen to Staff Feedback
Those who use an EHR system daily typically have a good sense of how easy that system is to use and how well it works. Don’t simply dismiss staff complaints about your EHR system. Instead, take the time to look into their concerns. They may simply need more training, or you may need to better optimize the system for your group.

How Can You Become a Nurse Leader?

If you’re interested in advancing your nursing career to a point where you can help manage an EHR or become a nurse leader in any other way, you should consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. A master’s degree in nursing can help you prepare for a variety of advanced nursing jobs, from nurse practitioner to nursing informatics specialist. And thanks to online learning, you don’t have to disrupt your current nursing job to complete an MSN program. If the study of  informatics interests you, choose an MSN degree program with a specialization in Nursing Informatics.

When you choose to earn a master’s in nursing online, there’s no need to live near a nursing school or drive to classes. Instead, an online MSN program lets you complete coursework from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. Plus, online nursing schools give you the power to decide when in the day you attend class, making it possible to fit your education in with your existing work schedule.

Walden University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Informatics. In this program you can learn how to integrate nursing science, computer science, and information systems to effectively use data in the promotion of better patient-centered healthcare. An additional advantage of Walden's online master’s in nursing programs is that you have the opportunity to go from BSN to MSN or, if you have not yet earned your bachelor's, you can go straight from an RN to MSN. It's just one more way online education makes it possible for you to enhance your nursing career

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a number of Master of Science in Nursing degree programs, including a Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Informatics online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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