Electronic Health Record Use in Swiss Nursing Homes and Its Association With Implicit Rationing of Nursing Care Documentation: Multicenter Cross-sectional Survey Study
Nursing homes (NHs) are increasingly implementing electronic health records (EHRs); however, little information is available on EHR use in NH settings. It remains unclear how care workers perceive its safety, quality, and efficiency, and whether EHR use might ease the burden of documentation, thereby reducing its implicit rationing. Objective: This study aims to describe nurses' perceptions regarding the usefulness of the EHR system and whether sufficient numbers of computers are available in
... iss NHs, and to explore the system's association with implicit rationing of nursing care documentation. Methods: This was a multicenter cross-sectional study using survey data from the Swiss Nursing Homes Human Resources Project 2018. It includes a convenience sample of 107 NHs, 302 care units, and 1975 care workers (ie, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses) from Switzerland's German-and French-speaking regions. Care workers completed questionnaires assessing the level of implicit rationing of nursing care documentation, their perceptions of the EHR system's usefulness and of how sufficient the number of available computers was, staffing and resource adequacy, leadership ability, and teamwork and safety climate. For analysis, we applied generalized linear mixed models, including individual-level nurse survey data and data on unit and facility characteristics. Results: Overall, the care workers perceived the EHR systems as useful; ratings ranged from 69.42% (1362/1962; guarantees safe care and treatment) to 78.32% (1535/1960; allows quick access to relevant information on the residents). However, less than half (914/1961, 46.61%) of the care workers reported sufficient computers on their unit to allow timely documentation. Half of the care workers responded that they sometimes or often had to ration the documentation of care. After adjusting for work environment factors and safety and teamwork climate, both higher care worker ratings of the EHR system's usefulness (β=−.12; 95% CI −0.17 to −0.06) and sufficient numbers of computers (β=−.09; 95% CI −0.12 to −0.06) were consistently associated with lower implicit rationing of nursing care documentation. Conclusions: Both the usefulness of the EHR system and the number of computers available were important explanatory factors for care workers leaving care activities (eg, developing or updating nursing care plans) unfinished. NH managers should carefully select and implement their information technology infrastructure with greater involvement and attention to the needs of their care workers and residents. Further research is needed to develop and implement user-friendly information technology infrastructure in NHs and to evaluate their impact on care processes as well as resident and care worker outcomes.