University of Kansas and Cerner partner to make nursing students familiar with electronic health records

Kansas City 04 March 2002The University of Kansas School of Nursing and Cerner have created a first-of-its-kind programme to educate future nurses using clinical information systems (CIS). In the past, future nurses learned how to document patient care and assess the health status of a person manually using a paper-based patient record. Now, Kansas University (KU) nursing students can track and trend patient information electronically in a state-of-the-art laboratory through a simulated electronic medical record powered by Cerner Millennium IT solutions.

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The new programme is called Simulated E-hEalth Delivery System (SEEDS). KU faculty Helen Connors, RN, PhD, FAAN; Judith Warren, RN, PhD, C, FAAN; in collaboration with informatics team members; and Charlotte Weaver, RN, PhD, vice president and chief nursing officer at Cerner, developed this project to support the educational components required for teaching health professional students the conceptual and practical applications of electronic health records. A pilot class of 38 students experienced SEEDS for the first time in fall 2001.

While the use of information technology (IT) to put vital patient information at the fingertips of clinicians is a growing trend, health care IT has not traditionally been part of the nursing education curriculum. Using a simulated electronic medical record, future nurses can now document patient care and view the patient's overall record in an organised and searchable format with Cerner Millennium PowerChart electronic medical record, CareNet Orders, and CareNet Documentation Management.

The structured documentation approach of the electronic chart helps nurses carefully work through every area of patient assessment. In sum, the clinical information system provides the information nurses need at the point of care, enhancing their decision-making and the overall quality of care they can provide to their patients.

The KU School of Nursing and Cerner began reviewing plans for such a project after the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published reports in late 1999 and early 2001 on quality, error, and waste in the United States health care system. The reports found that avoidable medical errors cause as many as 98.000 American deaths per year. The reports also found that waste, inefficiencies, and misused economic incentives were thought to cost the health care system more than $30 billion annually.

Information technology has been recognised as a key tool to improve the redundancy, efficiency, safety, and overall quality of health care. Thus, today's nursing students should graduate with a strong understanding of how technology will be integrated into their work flow and serves as an important tool to manage the health of their future patients.

KU School of Nursing faculty and administrators and Cerner also believe the use of technology in the classroom can have a positive effect on the current nursing shortage. IT can assist current nursing professionals to work more efficiently in a time where efficiency and accountability are driving forces in health care. In addition, it is foreseen that nursing programmes that promote and enhance the use of technology in the curriculum will more successfully attract graduating high school students who are much more familiar with the benefits of technology than previous generations.

Cerner Corporation is a supplier of clinical and management information and knowledge systems to more than 1500 health care organisations worldwide. Cerner is working to transform the health care delivery system by increasing the quality of care, improving efficiencies, eliminating medical error, and connecting the individual to the system with innovative information solutions.


Leslie Versweyveld

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