ABSTRACT: A major focus of nurses is to improve patient outcomes, and any introduction of technology into their work environment should add value through enhancing patient care and contributing to the development of nursing intelligence. This study addressed whether nurses working in an emergency department (ED) perceived a relationship between using an emergency department information system (EDIS) and patient outcomes. A cross-sectional survey design was used, with data collected from the population (n=168) of nurses from five Australian metropolitan public hospital emergency departments (EDs). The questionnaire collected information on how EDIS impacted on patient outcomes in terms of waiting times, triage process, departmental accountability, documentation focus, computer interaction, and system purpose. Nurses acknowledged the value of an information system in improving the triage process and increasing the accountability of the ED, however failed to identify any impact on reducing overall ED waiting times or its relationship to improved care delivery. Over half the respondents could not identify negative effects such as compelling nurses to focus on documentation details or 'treat the computer' rather than the patient. The use of technology in this study evoked optimistic responses, however results indicated a lack of clarity about the impact of EDIS on patient outcomes.
Studies in health technology and informatics 02/2009; 146:378-82.