Technology in healthcare is revolutionizing the way nursing care is delivered, providing nurses with advanced digital tools and services for superior patient care. These new technologies are enabling nurses to offer excellent patient care, enhancing their capabilities beyond traditional methods. In addition to supporting medical teams, technology in healthcare empowers nurses by improving their experiences and efficiency in providing care. This era marks an exciting progression in the nursing field, as elements like patient safety, professional communication, and information sharing undergo significant transformations. Clinicians are not only utilizing big data to inform their practices but also leveraging technology to extend their reach into patients’ homes through telehealth services. Furthermore, technology encourages patients to be actively informed about their health conditions via educational apps, wearables, and patient portals.
These changes reduce the amount of paperwork nurses have to wade through, improve workflow efficiency, and allow nurses to work collaboratively. As a result, they have opportunities to be at the forefront of informing policy and delivering innovations. They could do this by advising stakeholders on their experiences, educating other nurses, or simply adopting new digital technologies. Today, nurses can devote more time to patients as technology handles tasks previously done manually.
Senior nurses lead from the front
It is often nurse leaders who will be the first to learn about these technologies and then introduce them to the nurses in their teams to increase efficiency. However, even nurses with the ambition and skills to move into leadership positions can be held back by problems with gaining access to advanced qualifications. The combined responsibilities of professional work, coupled with home life, can leave nurses with very little time to study full-time. To tackle the issue, educational institutions such as the University of Indianapolis have designed nationally ranked courses, which take into account the existing commitments of busy working nurses.
At the University of Indianapolis, the post master’s DNP programs online are designed for experienced nurses who are ready to take the next step into a leadership role. This part-time course combines online study with clinical rotations close to home, enabling students to significantly advance their practice and graduate after just six semesters. Here’s a look at how technology will support their practice and that of their team upon graduation.
Real-time systems for locating equipment
Nurses can spend a considerable amount of their shift finding the equipment they need to care for a patient. Be it an IV unit or a monitoring device, this wasted time means that a nurse’s skills are not being optimized whilst they are at work. To allow nurses to concentrate more on patient care and less on searching for devices, real-time location systems are being introduced to medical facilities. These simple-to-use technologies are made up of small tags that have been fitted with transmitters. These are attached to pieces of equipment and can be tracked using an app or through a website. They give nurses the ability to find what they need quickly, then get it to the patient and begin the procedure. This enhances operational efficiency and improves patient outcomes.
IV pumps with automated controls
Automated IV pumps manage the drips that patients are given when they need medication or food supplied intravenously. Using software, nurses can control the dosage a person receives and the frequency, without having to disturb the patient. This means that when people are asleep a nurse can dispense their medication without waking them and nutritional IV pumps can be set to deliver meals at the correct time. Moreover, as nurses can input parameters, self-pumps can be provided to patients so they can manage their pain medication without calling for help.
As well as minimizing the risk of human error, automated IV pumps have an alarm system that will notify a practitioner if something is going wrong. By only having to attend when they are needed, rather than returning frequently to check the progress of a pump, nurses are free to work on other areas of the ward and interact with more patients.
Automated service robots deliver supplies
Nurses often have to manage the inventory of their wards, search for supplies, and restock their units. Several tasks unrelated to direct patient care might seem like a misuse of nurses’ professional skills. Now, delivery robots are stepping in, fetching essentials from departments like the pharmacy and delivering them where needed. These robots bring clean linens to low-stock wards, deliver meals to patient rooms, and perform many tasks previously assigned to nurses. Each robot features a secure container for supplies or hazardous materials, which staff can fill and lock before dispatching the robot. As there are various authentication options, as well as a trackable map, nurses can always view the history of the robot’s journey and find out where it is.
Wireless monitoring for patients
According to research, around ‘400,000 hospitalized patients experience some type of preventable harm each year’. This is terrible for the person who experienced the event, but also costs the US medical system billions of dollars in lawsuits annually. Falls account for numerous injuries sustained in a hospital, but portable monitors can help solve the problem. Sensors, placed on patients or their beds, make up these devices. Wearable ones detect vital signs, including respiratory rate and oxygen levels. They then transmit the data to nurses or trigger alerts if a patient shows distress signs. Bed monitors alert the medical team if patients who are at risk of having a fall get out of bed. This allows them to respond quickly and assist the person to the bathroom or help them back into bed.
Delivering care through telehealth and apps
Telehealth came into its own during the pandemic, but it has been around for much longer. Using either a phone, a tablet, or a PC, patients can chat with a doctor or a nurse to explain more about their symptoms. If they are on a video call, a patient could even show the practitioner something that is concerning them, such as a bump or a rash. As a result, patients can get a diagnosis and even a prescription if necessary without leaving their homes. Nurses play a crucial role in telehealth. They inform patients of specific symptoms to monitor. This guidance helps in knowing when to seek further tests or advice. Telehealth saves both clinics and patients time and money. Sick patients receive medical advice without visiting busy facilities. This approach is especially beneficial in preventing the spread of infections. It represents a practical solution for maintaining public health and resource efficiency.
Apps are also being used more frequently to help patients monitor their conditions and provide data to their nurses. As so many people now have smartphones, practitioners can suggest they download an educational app or one that is designed to monitor vital signs. After interacting with the app, patients can get advice on a specific medical concern or simply guidance on living a healthy lifestyle. If a person has seizures or a cardiac condition, apps can provide advice on when they should call a member of their medical team and when they need to rest.
What opportunities does digital healthcare present for nurses?
Though many nurses don’t view themselves as tech-savvy, technology will become integral to their work. They’ll lead in creating and using tech that improves patient outcomes, in homes or medical settings. Additionally, nurses will suggest ideas for new services and advise IT firms on enhancements.
Offering holistic treatment
Electronic health records bring together information that would otherwise be distributed around the IT systems of individual facilities or practitioners. EHRs offer many patient benefits, notably in treating complex conditions. They also help nurses provide holistic care, treating the whole person beyond specific issues or diagnoses. It takes on board the patient’s cultural, psychological, and physiological aspects in an attempt to treat the root cause of a condition, as well as the symptoms. EHRs consolidate patient data, offering nurses a comprehensive view of optimal care support.
Keeping up with the future of healthcare
Nursing is in a process of change, as is the entire US healthcare system. Nurse practitioners now have prescribing rights, and the Affordable Care Act has bolstered preventative care. One major change is the improved global communication among nurses and healthcare professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted this, with medical teams collaborating actively to find solutions.
Now, in hospitals up and down the US, physicians and nurses work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary teams to improve care outcomes. By merging skills and knowledge, healthcare professionals can diagnose, plan, and arrange effective individual treatment. Digital communications and real-time data sharing have made this possible.
Nurses, through remote work, bring innovative care access to those in distant or underserved areas. Accessing healthcare in some U.S. areas is tough. However, through telehealth, nurses deliver quality care directly to homes.
Forming new connections with patients
Engaging patients and involving them in their own care can significantly enhance their health outcomes. Research shows telehealth raises patient satisfaction, benefiting facilities by cutting costs as patients better manage conditions at home. However, the same research indicates that engaging patients effectively can ‘even benefit the clinician experience’. When they use technology, nurses find new ways of doing just that. They can provide patients with links to reliable sources of information online, as well as allow them to access their health data. Nurses advise on wellness, provide wearables for self-monitoring, and allow patients to seek help as needed. It’s partly to do with improving medical outcomes but also touches upon being a patient advocate.
Taking on a practical role in improving healthcare provision
Policy changes often modify the US healthcare system. Nurses’ input can guide these changes correctly. Technology aids nurses in research. They can report findings. They can share views with elected officials or at conferences. The IT industry is advancing rapidly. Input from frontline staff is crucial. It helps introduce effective and affordable innovations. By understanding the potential of technology, nurses can advocate for the kind of changes they want to see.
Nurses will continue to benefit from technology in healthcare
It’s hard to predict the future of healthcare. Yet, technology’s impact is clear. It will keep reshaping medical practice. Technology won’t replace nurses. But it does aid them. It makes monitoring complex conditions more efficient. It ensures safer medication administration. Also, it lets practitioners spend more time with patients.