Jul. 16, 2007
ILR School teams up with College of Human Ecology on new health care study
Saving paper may save lives -- and improve labor relations.
Staff members in 17 nursing homes in downstate New York are being trained in the use of new, hand-held wireless computers for record keeping that will send patient information directly to a central server, where doctors, pharmacies, rehabilitation specialists and others treating residents will be able to access it easily and quickly.
The undertaking is part of a new Cornell health care study combining the expertise of faculty from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Human Ecology. Once completed, "The New York Nursing Home Quality Care Technology Demonstration Project" will be the first comprehensive examination of how new medical information technologies affect both employees and residents in nursing homes.
The two-year study is designed to determine if shifting to electronic record keeping can improve resident care and reduce medical errors. The study also will examine the affect of new health information technology on employee relations, retention and recruitment in long-term care institutions.
"Most record keeping in nursing homes is still done on paper today, and error rates can often be attributed to this kind of handwritten recording of data," said David Lipsky, professor of conflict resolution and director of the ILR Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution. Lipsky is co-leader of the project with Karl Pillemer, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology and director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA).
"This is the first opportunity to scientifically study how electronic medical information technology affects resident care," said Pillemer. "We anticipate that quality of care may improve through better information management, including reduced resident falls, fewer hospitalizations and improved management of chronic disabling conditions."
Other participating Cornell researchers include Ariel Avgar, assistant director of research for the Scheinman Institute, and Rhoda Meador, associate director of CITRA. The ILR School will focus its research on the impact of the new technology on the workforce and job satisfaction, while CITRA will study the effects on quality of care.
Funding for the two-year study, a total of $800,000, is being provided by the 1199SEIU Greater New York Worker Participation Fund and the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that supports independent research on health care issues and awards grants to improve health care practice and policy.
Lipsky said the project is unique because officers from the union, 1199SEIU and the owners of the nursing homes worked together in securing state funds to purchase the new record keeping technology. In another partnership, health economists from Cornell and Harvard will study the business implications of introducing the technology to nursing homes nationwide.
Media Relations Office