The research, from the University of California San Francisco Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care, began with the premise that nursing homes may delay implementation of HIT because it places demands on nursing home staff.

Health Information Technology Implementation: Implications for the Nursing Home Workforce, published on Dec. 15, 2016, shed light on the effect of HIT on nursing home staff’s perceptions and care processes, as well as the training and infrastructure needed for workers to use HIT effectively.

It found that nursing homes lacked systematic processes to implement HIT and underinvested in training. As a result, integration was slow. Staff sometimes resisted, especially those with longer tenure. Lack of wireless connectivity was the most-frequent barrier to uptake.

Yet the survey revealed that staff members were interested in learning HIT systems, especially new staff, and that newer nurses learned the technology faster. Nurses agreed that new nurses’ age, not years of experience, determined their ability to adapt to HIT, according to the report.
CAST Executive Director, Majd Alwan, agrees with the report’s assessment adding this in a comment on the report: “Providers needs to invest in appropriate technologies, engage staff in technology planning, selection, workflow redesign, implementation and invest in staff training to be able to attract and retain millennials and overcome workforce shortages and high turnover rates that this sector faces.”

The report concluded that nursing homes are unlikely to realize potential gains in productivity and quality care without initial investments in HIT implementation and in training their workforce.

The study offered these specific recommendations:

  • Toolkit: Develop a toolkit to prepare the nursing home workforce for HIT implementation, including a facility and staff readiness assessment, a technical needs assessment to broach WiFi issues, a process guide to engage staff in technology selection (such as the CAST Technology Selection Tools), and a guide for integrating HIT with quality improvement initiatives.
  • Best Practices: Develop best practices for training the workforce, including mandatory training, dedicated time and space for training, increased time for training, training specific to work tasks, and ongoing training to account for technology updates. Involving all staff in training and offering equal training for new hires was important.
  • Incentives: Increase funding incentives for training and compensation for IT personnel and staff with advanced HIT skillsets.

Read the full report.