Being a nurse is a genuinely fulfilling but highly demanding job that provides the opportunity to touch and change the lives of many people. This was highlighted even further during the COVID-19 pandemic, when nurses assisted physicians and patients on the frontline as the whole world was struck by uncertainty and fear. The nursing profession demands that individuals have the core attributes of human behavior – being empathetic, caring and attentive – and this cannot be replaced by technology.
However, innovations in technology can help relieve the burden of many repetitive and monotonous tasks carried out by nurses. With improving technology, nurses can be more efficient and focused on essential activities. This has been highlighted more in a recent WHO report, ‘State of the World’s Nursing 2020’, which accentuates the significance of technology in both nursing practice and education.
In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become crucial tools in providing high-quality nursing care. These technologies encompass a wide range of electronic systems and devices that enable healthcare professionals to access, store and exchange patient information, collaborate with interdisciplinary teams, and enhance clinical decision-making. As cutting-edge technology becomes integrated with healthcare, nurses can harness the power of ICTs to help streamline their workflows, improve patient outcomes and deliver more personalized care.
Becoming a registered nurse (RN) is a rewarding and fulfilling career path that allows individuals to make a positive impact on the lives of others. If you would like a rewarding career in nursing and want to begin working as quickly as possible, Elmhurst University provides students with the fastest way to become an RN. Elmhurst offers a fast-track program that will equip you with the skills, knowledge and confidence to start a successful career as a nurse. From anatomy and physiology to clinical rotations and patient care, this program covers a wide range of essential subjects.
How has the nursing profession benefited from improved technology?
Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, including the healthcare industry. Not only has it transformed the way that patients are treated and diagnosed, but it has also revolutionized the roles of healthcare professionals, particularly nurses.
The impact of advanced technologies on nursing care cannot be overstated. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, nurses are finding themselves at the forefront of technological advancements that are revolutionizing patient care. From electronic health records to telemedicine, advanced technologies are impacting nurses’ roles in ways that are making their jobs more efficient and effective. Let’s explore this in more detail.
Nurses by their nature are experts in time management. They know how to give maximum attention and care to patients while also sticking to the treatment schedule. With improved technology, however, they can now spend less time on administrative tasks and more on patient care. They also benefit from technology in their ability to communicate with other healthcare professionals. This eliminates the need for frequent visits between different practitioners.
Machines that record and analyze vital signs and other measurements can provide nurses with accurate data, reducing the chance of human error. This reduces the number of tests and treatments that are needed and saves time for the patient. In fact, doctors often recommend that nurses use electronic health records to speed up the time it takes for medical staff to complete documentation.
Enhanced patient safety
Nurses have long been critical components of the healthcare system, especially when it comes to patient safety. Their roles continue to be even more important with improved technologies. Electronic records and maps create pathways for nurses to use information, which can help identify any health complications. It also provides comprehensive patient history, giving nurses a better all-round view of their patient’s condition. This allows them to make faster and more accurate decisions, resulting in better patient outcomes.
Improved workflow and documentation
Research has shown that using electronic health records efficiently can save a healthcare provider hundreds of hours. With patient records digitally stored, nurses can make them accessible to other healthcare professionals. This means that they need to efficiently enter patient information only once, rather than multiple times. This saves time for both nurses and patients, as information is available more quickly and easily. By accessing data in a timely way, nurses can use it to make informed decisions about patient care.
Access to evidence-based practice
One of the greatest benefits of technology is that it gives nurses access to evidence-based practice. Nurses are often responsible for choosing the best course of treatment for their patients. This can sometimes become difficult, especially when there is a lack of evidence to support various practices. Technology makes it easier for nurses to access important resources such as up-to-date medical journals and research studies that will help them provide the best possible care.
Reduced labor costs
Technology reduces the number of labor hours needed to complete daily activities. More advanced technology can help reduce the overall labor costs that would normally be spent on non-productive activities. This is creating an opportunity for cost savings in the healthcare industry. For nurses, the more time they spend caring for patients and performing other vital duties, the better. Technology has helped make their jobs easier in many ways. It has also made them more efficient and productive, which ultimately leads to improved patient outcomes.
Increased patient engagement
Technology is changing how patients interact with their healthcare providers. Patients are becoming more tech-savvy, adopting wearable devices and other technology that enables them to communicate with their nurses. This not only opens up new lines of communication between patients and nurses but can also improve patient outcomes. It gives patients the opportunity to actively participate in the management of their own care, which will lead them to have better health outcomes.
More secure data storage
As patients are empowered to take more control of their health, they are demanding access to their own records. Making these records more accessible enhances patient safety as it helps nurses provide quality care to patients. The secure storage of patient data in electronic medical records and other forms of technology also enables nurses to give out pertinent information that improves patient outcomes.
Technology has made it easy for nurses to access training materials and other resources. They can access lesson plans, videos and other pedagogical resources that give them the tools they need to learn complex procedures. This ensures that they are properly trained when it comes time to provide care. The use of technology also lets nurses seek out lessons from other healthcare professionals in different specialties as a way of expanding their knowledge base.
When workflows are streamlined, nurses have the opportunity to work in tandem with other healthcare professionals and eliminate redundancy. This also helps improve patient care as it provides a more complete picture of the patient’s health. This means that nurses need to share information with other healthcare professionals and integrate their roles, allowing them to give short- and long-term care with minimal conflicts.
More accurate data
The more technologically advanced the healthcare system becomes, the more accurate information nurses receive. This helps them make better decisions about patient care and treatment. Most importantly, technology helps them detect health issues in their early stages, providing patients with the opportunity to get a timely diagnosis and potentially improve their health outcomes.
When data is digitalized, it acquires certain properties that can be calculated and used to provide important insights. Nurses can utilize this data to make better decisions about patient care and provide better care outcomes. In fact, a 2015 meta-analysis found that electronic health records could improve patient outcomes by as much as 37%.
As the healthcare system continues to evolve, the roles of nurses will continue to change with it. The effectiveness of nurse-to-patient communication depends on the technological advancements that enable positive nurse-patient rapport. For instance, the use of telemedicine allows nurses to maintain contact with a patient’s doctor and other healthcare professionals as they administer care and monitor the patient’s progress remotely.
Technologies that have reshaped nursing care
Technological advancements have drastically transformed various industries, and the field of nursing care services is no exception. As healthcare continues to evolve, nurses are increasingly relying on innovative technologies to enhance patient care. These new technologies have the potential to greatly improve patient outcomes, enhance workflow efficiency and increase the overall quality of care. They include the following.
Telehealth is the use of technology to provide medical care at any place and at any time. It involves healthcare professionals communicating with patients via video teleconference, internet-based platforms or video conferencing. When a healthcare provider is available nearby, patients can receive a same- or next-day appointment. This type of care enables patients to communicate with their providers without travel complications. Nurses are allowed to work remotely, reducing the amount of time they need away from their patients and enhancing patient care.
Automatic IV pumps
IV pumps are used to deliver medications and other fluids to patients. These pumps use a computer system that has an electronic interface. They control the flow of fluids through tubes and into the patient’s body via needles inserted into veins. These systems can be linked to patient monitors via wireless technology, making it possible for nurses to monitor the progress of the IV delivery via a computer terminal.
Nurses handle an array of tasks, and most of these are not related to patient care. Recent research conducted by American Nurse Today has established that 53% of nurses’ time is spent on duties that do not involve patient care, such as looking for equipment, managing supplies, filling out reports, communicating with colleagues, and handling patient discharges or check-ins. For a highly trained nurse, this is not good use of skills and time. The good news is that many of these menial tasks can be handled by delivery robots. These autonomous robots are programmed to perform a variety of tasks to help nurses focus of their core duties. These include delivering meals, packaging drugs, fetching medicines from the pharmacy, and taking specimens to the lab, among other duties.
Remote monitoring enables a nurse to use a clinical system and other tools to help patients remotely access their health records. This allows nurses to monitor multiple patients simultaneously and coordinate care according to each patient’s needs. Remote monitoring can provide an immediate look at a patient’s condition, improve the quality of care provided, and reduce unnecessary expenses associated with overnight hospital stays.
Electronic medication administration
Even the most vigilant nurses make mistakes. Errors involving giving medications to patients can not only be costly, but also deadly. Unfortunately, even the most vigilant health practitioners can make mistakes. Each year, an average of 7,000 patients die as a result of adverse drug effects. To help curb this menace, medical practitioners are administering drugs through electronic medication. The system works by using software to embed information for medication into barcodes, which helps nurses to be better informed. This will in turn help them administer the correct medication and consequently prevent fatal mistakes, save lives and avoid costly mistakes that could amount to millions of dollars.
Smart beds in healthcare facilities
Smart beds can help healthcare facilities reduce their operating expenses and lower their carbon footprints. These beds have integrated sensors that monitor the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, movement, sleep and other quality-of-life indicators. When a patient has an irregular heartbeat or other low alertness, the sensors can notify a nurse to ensure that the patient receives timely medical care.
Wearable technology is designed to help patients stay engaged in their healthcare management throughout the course of their treatment. These devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, monitor a patient’s heart rate and other vital signs, alert nurses when a patient is experiencing an irregular heartbeat, and track the progress of a treatment.
Transportable monitors are used to collect and transmit vital signs from patients in a hospital, at home or during transportation to help a nurse monitor their progress. They are designed to be used by a healthcare provider, such as a nurse or physician, to monitor the patient’s vital signs and access their health status anywhere. These devices also allow nurses to assess a patient’s condition in real time and make adjustments to their healthcare management accordingly.
Medical equipment designed for easy removal during patient transport can be fitted on a small device worn around the wrist or upper arm. They include vein-taping devices that can be used for temporary placement of catheters in patients with difficult access.
Data-driven technology can provide doctors with information about a patient’s medical condition to help them make optimal treatment choices, improve outcomes and increase overall patient satisfaction. This information is used to predict the likelihood of a health issue or future problem or develop a predictive model for patients.
Artificial intelligence in clinical decision support
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the healthcare industry by optimizing treatment plans, enhancing patient experience and improving outcomes. This technology uses algorithms to identify patterns associated with disease mechanisms, symptoms and clinical parameters, which gives caregivers a more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s condition. It enables a clinician to analyze patient data and generate a plan tailored to the specific needs of their patients.
With these improved technologies, nurses are better equipped than ever to use current scientific research and clinical evidence to support their work practices. Their role has also become more specialized as they take advantage of these technologies in specific areas such as drug administration, diagnostics and patient monitoring.
The future of medical technology in nursing
In the past, nurses have been tasked with responsibilities such as documentation and coordination of care across multiple patients. With today’s technology, many of these tasks can be handed off to automated systems so that nurses can focus on more critical aspects of patient care such as diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation.
As innovations reshape how healthcare is administered, the nursing field is increasingly benefiting from their positive impact. It is an exciting time for the nursing profession as there is an increasing number of well-designed technologies that can dramatically improve nursing care. Nurses are able to provide better patient care due to technological advancements in the medical equipment and tools available in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.
To ensure that nurses are equipped to deliver the best care possible, they must be able to understand the impact that real-world tools can have on their daily practice. Technology offers limitless potential in healthcare, and it is critical for nurses to be conversant with it. If you want to learn more about the innovative technologies revolutionizing healthcare field, you can get started by first pursuing an RN qualification as the first step toward educational and professional development. This will help you to build a solid foundation of knowledge and the competencies needed to pursue a career in nursing. It will also prepare you for the future challenges and rewards of this profession.