Technology is capable of revolutionizing entire industries, so it should come as no surprise that it’s had a major impact on the healthcare sector. Afterall, it’s tech breakthroughs that have partly given rise to more effective medical treatments and enhanced patient care.
For today’s nurses, technology is at the forefront of their profession. While it can’t surpass medical knowledge or compassion, it can certainly enhance the care that patients receive. To find out more, take a look at the five ways tech is changing nursing in the U.S.:
1. Better Communication
It takes a large team of medical professionals to provide effective care to a single patient, which means communication is a key part of a nurse’s role. From receiving instructions from consultants and doctors to recording which treatments and medications have been administered, nurses need to communicate with their colleagues on a continual basis.
In an environment where regular shift changes can interrupt the flow of communication systems, however, technology is bridging the gap between staff. Instead of relying on handwritten notes or trying to track down team members via the phone or face-to-face, nurses are now using handheld devices to facilitate instant communication.
This enables nursing staff to manage their workflows more efficiently and access real-time information, as and when it’s needed. As a result, enhanced patient care can be delivered, and swifter treatments can be provided.
2. Access to Patient Information
When diagnosing a medical condition, having access to a patient’s medical history is critical. Similarly, being able to track a patient’s information before administering treatment is an important way of maintaining safety and improving outcomes.
Until recently, however, patient information has been segmented, rather than being shared between medical providers. With no central database, nursing teams might be tasked with treating a patient with limited knowledge of their medical history. If a patient is unresponsive or unable to provide accurate and detailed information, for example, this could have a significant impact on the treatments that can be provided.
Fortunately, technology is enabling nursing staff to access and maintain up-to-date patient records. With access to secure CRM systems, patient records can be shared between departments and even between separate medical facilities. This ensures that medical professionals can access important information, such as a patient’s allergies, risk factors or previous diagnoses, before deciding how to proceed.
3. Faster Training
To qualify as a Registered Nurse, individuals must undertake intensive training, usually in the form of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This provides them with the knowledge they’ll need to work safely and effectively in a medical environment. While the need for comprehensive training is understandable, the length of time it can take to complete a traditional BSN may prevent many people from entering the profession.
Studying a full-time undergraduate course on campus for fouryears requires a great deal of commitment and many sacrifices, particularly if students are attempting to juggle family life with their professional careers.
However, the rise of e-learning is now enabling prospective nurses to study in a more efficient way. The highly respected accelerated nursing program online at Baylor University ensures that students can complete their BSN in a shorter timeframe, for example. Additionally, being able to study online, rather than in a face-to-face environment, provides a more workable solution for the vast majority of students and ensures that everyone who has a nursing vocation is able to fulfill it.
4. Patient Monitoring
Registered Nurses (RNs) carry out a wide range of duties, but patient monitoring is central to their role. Taking observations provides essential information about a patient’s well-being and must be done on a regular basis. Typically, RNs will visit a patient’s bedside in order to take their blood pressure, listen to their heart rate or test their blood glucose levels, for example.
In terms of staffing and workflows, the time this takes means that hospitals require a vast number of staff in order to attend to patients. Furthermore, it places extra pressure on nursing staff while they’re on duty and can lead to an increased rate of burnout in the medical profession.
As technology evolves, however, remote patient monitoring is becoming a reality. With wearable devices, critical human metrics, such as heart rate, glucose, and blood pressure can be monitored continuously and the data automatically updated on the patient’s records.
This means that nurses no longer need to take observations manually or on a one-to-one basis. Instead, patients can be fitted with wearable devices and Registered Nurses can effectively monitor multiple patients at any one time.
5. Reduced Medical Errors
Despite rigorous training and the utmost dedication, medical errors can and do happen. Misinterpreting handwritten notes or inadvertently administering too much medication is a simple yet potentially lethal mistake that anyone can make.
By using technological devices to facilitate patient care, however, the risk of medical errors is reduced. Medication can be administered via automated pumps, which prevents human error from causing accidental harm, for example. Similarly, artificial intelligence can be used to alert staff to potential irregularities or errors in a patient’s records.
With access to more accurate information and automated systems, nurses can undertake their roles with more confidence and more effective safeguarding in place, which will optimize patient care and protect the liability of both individual practitioners and medical facilities.
What Does the Future of Nursing Look Like?
Although technology is undoubtedly changing the face of nursing in the U.S., the profession is growing at a consistent rate. In fact, it’s expected that an extra 221,900 RN roles will be created before 2029, which highlights just how much nurses are needed in today’s society.
While technology is facilitating better healthcare and alleviating the pressure on medical professionals, it can’t replace the human touch and advanced knowledge that a qualified and dedicated nurse can offer. Furthermore, the specialist skills acquired by nurses throughout their career ensure that patients will continue to receive exemplary care, speedy diagnoses, and safe, appropriate medical treatments.