I saw a letter to the editor of the Casper, Wyoming Star-Tribune on February 18, 2009 written by a home health nurse by the name of Wanda Jones. She says,"For every hour I spend with a patient in Home Health, I spend another 2 to 3 hours or more writing, documenting every required aspect of patient care required by Medicare and patient care in general. Although I agree with Medicare on these standards of care and that these must be documented, the time involved is costly to my agency financially, to me in the aspect of fatigue and stress, and more than likely one issue that burns out so many of our much-needed nursing staff in America and probably on a global scale."
Wanda goes on to comment that, "IT Health would affect the patient care in our health system across the board of physicians and other professions, institutions, hospitals, nursing facilities and others. Fast and complete transfer of information facilitates better patient care and treatment, frees up professionals to focus on patient care, feel less burned out than they would spending so much time dealing with paperwork."
I recall working with one of our clients, a very large home health agency in Alabama that was experiencing high turnover of nurses. As the leaders of this very successful company explored the causes of this high turnover, they discovered that nurse dissatisfaction and frustration with their information technology system was the cause. They made a major financial and strategic decision to purchase an entirely new system with a modern point of care computing capability.
Although the conversion to the new system was time consuming, expensive, and frustrating, the outcome was worth the investment. Not only did the new IT system improve there ability to capture and access clinical data, but the level of nurse frustration and burnout improved. Although this technology solution did not solve all of their problems and totally eliminate turnover, it made a significant contribution to the company.
As we move toward Home Health Care 2020, and the Agency Of the Future, more and more agencies will make significant investments in Information Technology to improve productivity, AND, to improve employee satisfaction with their work.
What do you think? How is this factor affecting your agency? What do you think about the Federal Government's economic stimulus plan and the provisions for health care IT?
Give us your comments below.