Rapid advances in technology have changed healthcare, and this is especially apparent when you examine nurses and technology used in patient care. Nothing can replace the one-on-one attention that nurses provide, but those who embrace these new technologies do so in combination with their personal touches to provide the best possible patient care.
How Nurses Are Using New Technology
While some healthcare facilities are still working to implement modern systems, some trends have already taken hold.
Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records consolidate patient data into an easy-to-read format that allows nurses to quickly search through it. These electronic records contain health and treatment information, medications, and treatment plans. More advanced systems include lab results and radiology images.
There are several advantages to having access to these electronic records, such as they:
- Save on time: Trudging back and forth between records rooms, nurses’ stations and patients’ rooms takes away valuable time that could better spent in direct patient care. Even the time spent going through patients’ charts in their rooms takes away from other tasks. This improvement in data access time also helps nurses make quicker decisions regarding patient care.
- Allow for better coordination: It is important for everyone involved in a patient’s care to have access to the same information, and electronic health records have made that much easier. Calling up a patient’s complete history helps ensure that everyone involved in that patient’s care is well-informed.
- Improve communication with patients: Having a quick answer for patients about their scheduled testing, medication history, and more can help reduce patients’ anxiety.
Mobile devices put critical information right at a nurse’s fingertips. Nurses use their mobile devices to look up prescription information, learn more about specific medical conditions, and communicate with their colleagues. Many hospitals now provide nurses with mobile phones or tablets that also give them quick access to records, scheduling, and other features.
The increased use of mobile devices in nursing has brought an increase in the number of mobile apps related to nursing and healthcare in general. Some of these apps are already approved and installed on devices that hospitals give to their nurses. When nurses use apps on their own devices, they should be careful to follow all applicable policies and talk to their supervisors about whether the information in that application is trustworthy. This is equally important when using the internet rather than apps to find information.
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Smart beds collect information such as weight, head and neck position, and temperature. Some smart beds are outfitted with sensors that track the occupant’s movements. Rather than just setting off an alarm when a patient gets out of bed, these sensors also collect data that nurses can analyze to look for patterns in movement.
Wearable technology in healthcare is not a new concept. Many patients already use smart watches to monitor their heartrates and exercise levels. Newer technology allows for monitoring of blood pressure, glucose levels, and other information that is relayed from the patients’ devices to hospital equipment.
The Future of Nurses and Technology
As quickly as the benefits of technology in nursing have piled up, there is still plenty of room for growth. Some glimpses into the future show even more ways that nurses can take advantage of these advances and raise their quality of patient care to new heights.
Some nursing schools already use 3D-printed models of hearts and other organs to educate their students. Technology in this area is expected to grow to the point that patients will receive 3D printed organs and prosthetics.
Along with this 3D technology comes new responsibilities for nurses, who will have to learn about the proper care of 3D-printed prosthetics. They will also have to teach their patients about proper care, both while they are still hospitalized and when they return home.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Technology in nursing already allows for retrieval of patient information when nurses are away from patients while in a healthcare setting. One of the emerging technologies in medicine is the use of remote monitoring equipment that allows patients to stay at home while still being monitored by their doctors and nurses.
The data collected from electronic health records, digital monitoring systems, and other devices results in a mountain of information that could prove invaluable if harnessed properly. A system utilizing artificial intelligence could alert doctors and nurses to illness outbreaks or recognize a safety issue before it becomes more widespread.
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