National Nurses Week 2013: Nurses Share Their EHR Journey

Judy Murphy | May 6, 2013

What an exciting time to be a nurse in our nation! During the annual National Nurses Week, we are reminded that nurses in every community are intimately involved in each patient’s journey towards better health and better care now and in the future. Health IT is a tool to help us and our patients in that journey.

From where I sit here at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), I am encouraged every day by the leadership and clinical innovation being taken across the nation by nurses in this time of profound change.  In honor of these compassionate, challenging and inspiring caregivers, it is my pleasure to kick off a week-long ONC effort during National Nurses Week to commemorate the many accomplishments of our nation’s nurses.


Regional Extension Center Partnership With Nurse Practitioners
We begin this effort today with a data brief highlighting the success of ONC’s national network of Regional Extension Centers’ partnership with nurse practitioners (NPs) to enable better care and better health through electronic health record (EHR) adoption and Meaningful Use. Highlights of the brief include:

  • Of the 41,000 plus primary care NPs nationwide, more than 20,800 nurse practitioners (50%) are partnered with Regional Extension Centers to enable better care and better health through EHR adoption and MU.
  • Four out of five Regional Extension Center NPs are live on an EHR. Almost one-quarter of all Regional Extension Center NPs are already meaningful EHR users.
  • More than half of all primary care NPs (58%) in rural areas work with a Regional Extension Center.
  • Regional Extension Center NPs are 59% more likely to be paid for CMS MU incentives than non-enrolled NPs.
  • Regional Extension Centers are also providing assistance to NPs who are not eligible for the incentive payments, and more than 1,000 of these providers have already demonstrated Meaningful Use.


My Journey to EHR Adoption and Meaningful Use
Each day during National Nurses Week a different nurse will share their journey towards better care through EHR adoption and Meaningful Use.

Let’s start with my story, which began long before the incentive program, before MU was defined, and well before ONC and the Regional Extension Centers began offering support to nurses and other providers.

As the principal EHR implementation executive with Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, where I worked in IT for over 25 years, I led the difficult and sometimes frustrating work of adopting and optimizing health IT.

Starting with the implementation of order entry and results reporting systems in the 80’s through the clinical documentation systems of the 90’s, and then beginning the EHR journey in 2000, we did the hard work of health IT adoption and integration into clinical workflow. When I left in December 2011, I helped guide the organization to MU Stage 1 attestation, both on the hospital side (five hospitals) and for more than 300 eligible professionals.

I undertook this journey because I believed then and continue to believe now that health IT is a key enabler of the three-part aim:

  1. better health
  2. better care
  3. lower costs


Stay Tuned for More Success Stories During National Nurses Week
Throughout National Nurses Week we will introduce you to:

  • Betsy Frederick, MSN-NP, from Bangor, Maine, who is committed to providing the best patient care possible, supported by meaningful use of an EHR, in spite of being ineligible for EHR incentive funds.
  • Carol Taylor, FNP, in rural Hobbs, New Mexico, discusses how her practice has improved patient outcomes by utilizing the clinical guidance that is part of their EHR. The prompts from the EHR facilitate better care especially for patients with chronic diseases, and is just one example of the better patient care enabled by committed providers and EHRs.
  • Justin Bennett, NP, a solo provider in Louisiana, prides himself on providing team-based care, and relies on his EHR to help provide targeted patient education information as well as working to make transitions in care seamless for his patients.
  • Mary Erickson, BSN, MSM, RN from Helena, Montana, offers a gritty battle cry for nurses everywhere: while the changes in health care today are many and oftentimes challenging, the dominant trait we possess is that we do not shy away from a challenge.  We embrace challenges; learn from them and then master them. Finally, we share our experience so others can learn and scale up so patients are better cared for.

As a nurse, I can relate to these lessons learned about the need for the adoption of health IT and the role each member of the care team plays.  I am proud of the support and leadership that ONC and HHS provide for nurses and am excited to help lead this effort.

Health IT is Shaping the Future of our Health Care Delivery System
I am in awe of the passionate leadership nurses are demonstrating every day as the transformation of our health care delivery system continues across the nation. The Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on keeping people healthy, preventing illness and managing chronic conditions opens new opportunities for nurses to shape and lead the future delivery of healthcare and capitalize on the expertise of the nursing profession. The HITECH Act contains funding and overarching strategies for Meaningful Use that will lead to interoperability. So far the law has provided $13.7 billion to eligible professionals who are meeting Stage 1 of Meaningful Use.


We Want to Hear Your Stories
I encourage each of you to share your stories, both challenges and successes, with us and everyone who comes to

We want to hear how health IT is supporting you, your patient engagement activities and your patient care transitions across health care teams. Please join me each day during National Nurses Week 2013 to read these powerful stories.