The Effect of Electronic Medical Records on Nurses’ Job Satisfaction: A Multi-Year Analysis

William G. Johnson, Perry M. Gee, Lesly A. Kelly, Richard J. Butler


To measure nurses’ rankings of their electronic medical records (EMRs) on their job satisfaction over time, a retrospective analysis of a set of cross sectional data from a survey conducted by the United States’ California Registered Nursing Board in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. Approximately 4,500 nurses ranked the usefulness of their EMRs in each of the five years.

The EMR rankings increased steadily between 2008 and 2016 but the changes are small and the rates of change are very slow, suggesting that the problems with EMRs have been difficult to solve. The results show EMRs have a large impact: a one category increase in EMR rankings increased job satisfaction by as much as or slightly more than one-third for hospital and non-hospital nurses.

The size of the effects and their persistence over eight years imply a substantial loss from poorly designed EMRs, and one which could have been avoided had EMR designs more closely matched nurses’ day to day work. The reductions in job satisfaction and potential effects on burnout are losses to be added to the more widely measured losses in productivity and negative effects of EMRs on patient-provider relationships.

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