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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Transforming Caring into Bytes

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Dr. Hans-Peter de Ruiter

Caring into BytesThe organizational benefits of using data collected in the electronic health record (EHR) are well documented, yet few studies have illuminated the process, beginning from data collection at the bedside through the chain of related work within healthcare institutions. The purpose of this research is to understand how bedside care is transformed into data and how these data join a chain of activities within the institution. This study is performed as an Institutional Ethnography, a research approach focused on the social organization of work in complex institutions. Data collection included 8 focus groups, 28 interviews and the collection of institutional documents. This study shows that the EHR format foreclosed opportunities to communicate information about skilled practices and decisions, yet encouraged entry of concrete data points about patients and nursing care. Data from patient records were elsewhere gathered and aggregated as statistics to help support institutional objectives. This study illustrates how the EHR has added a data-entry function to bedside nursing work, which is part of a coordinate chain of institutional activity that changes how nursing care is understood by nurses and other professionals.