ILR School and Human Ecology to partner on first-of-its-kind healthcare study

Researchers to examine how new technologies affect nursing home workforce and resident care
ILR School and Human Ecology to partner on first-of-its-kind healthcare study
Friday, June 29, 2007

Can the digitization of record-keeping procedures in nursing homes help increase employee job satisfaction and improve the quality of resident care?

The New York Nursing Home Quality Care Technology Demonstration Project, a groundbreaking study by the ILR School and other Cornell University researchers, will be the first to test how the introduction of digital record-keeping technology affects employee performance and relations, as well as quality of patient care, in New York City-area nursing homes.

Lead researchers include David B. Lipsky, ILR School professor of conflict resolution and director of the ILR Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, and Karl Pillemer, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology and director of the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA). Other Cornell researchers include Ariel Avgar, assistant director of research for the Scheinman Institute, and Rhoda Meador, associate director of CITRA.

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 healthcare issues and awards grants to improve healthcare practice and policy. 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.

"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. This project is one of the few times that researchers have been given an opportunity, in a systematic fashion, to evaluate how changes in technology affect staff job satisfaction as well as employee retention and recruitment. The use of these new technologies will transform our healthcare institutions," Lipsky said.

"This is the first opportunity to scientifically study how electronic medical information technology affects resident care," Pillemer said. "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."

Beginning this summer, staff in 17 nursing homes in downstate New York will be provided with and trained in the use of new, hand-held wireless computers for record-keeping that will send data directly to a central server, where doctors, pharmacies, rehabilitation specialists, and others treating residents will be able to easily and quickly access the same patient information.

The ILR team will work with Cornell's Survey Research Institute (SRI) to conduct surveys before and after the introduction of the technology with 1,000 nursing home staff. The post-introduction surveys will explore a variety of issues, including staff resistance to this new technology and if changes in record-keeping procedures allow more time for staff to spend on direct one-to-one patient care, thus affecting their job satisfaction.

Lipsky added that this project is unique because officers from the union, 1199SEIU and the owners of the nursing homes worked together in securing the funds needed from the state to purchase the new record-keeping technology. Another aspect of the study involves health economists from Cornell and Harvard, who will be looking at the business implications of introducing digital record-keeping technology and the return on investment it can bring to nursing homes nationwide.

David Lipsky, director, ILR Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution,, (607) 255-5378

Karl Pillemer, director, Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA),, (607) 255-8086