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by Tim James
Published on 6 September 2016

Tim has been a paediatric nurse for 17 years and still practices in the NHS. He has worked in the Paediatric E.D, PICU, Surgical Pre-assessment, Bed Management and as a Clinical Informatics lead for an NHS Trust in the UK. He joined Cerner in March 2015 as a Clinical Consultant in the transformation team.

One of the most frustrating things for me as a nurse is the pre-admission and admission assessment processes. There are several paper forms to complete, chances are I will ask you the same question you have already answered when seeing some of my colleagues and you will have to repeat demographics you already gave. As a nurse I am dedicating too much of my time to paperwork instead of being by the bedside, interacting with a child and their family, or preparing medications. Repetitive processes add pressure upon me as a healthcare provider because there is only so much time within a shift and there are lots of other things I need to do to provide quality care to patients. An electronic health record (EHR) can help relieve some of this pressure with all information being entered only once and available in a single place.

A change of shift is another stressful time. As a ward nurse I look after patients who sometimes cannot communicate clearly, so if the paper record regarding a patient’s communication style is buried in several volumes of notes, and if the parents are not around to help me understand and communicate effectively with their child, it can be very challenging. I am nursing these patients, so I want to be able to communicate with a child to enable me to provide compassionate care. I need a place where things like patient communications patterns, a smile or a blink that might mean something, are explained to me and easily accessible. Even though as a nurse you can look at physiological observations to help assess patient comfort you still may not know what the patient is trying to tell you. These are some of the things that make caring ‘caring’, and this is where an EHR helps make a difference to patient care, by allowing nurses to document the softer information as well making it easier to find.

Early Warning System, such as PEWS, is also a game changer for nurses. I may have 4 or 5 patients I need to carry out observations on during my shift at varying frequencies, documenting in the paper record, and calculating PEWS scores in my head. Humans make errors... Early warning scores that are calculated in an EHR, which when triggered send automated alerts to an outreach team, remove the step of me having to try and contact the outreach team myself. This helps reduce the risks of a child deteriorating on my ward and not receiving timely interventions or treatment.

This is why I truly believe that healthcare IT can make a difference, and by still practicing as a nurse, I can insure that our clients and partners get a system that is fit for purpose, efficient and helpful.