Technology Advancements in Nursing
Nursing is an extremely dynamic profession, with practices and procedures that are constantly evolving. From new diagnostic and treatment methods to streamlined monitoring and reporting processes, we’re always getting better at what we do. And, in recent years, most of the biggest advancements in nursing have been the direct result of technological innovations.
Here we look at some of the best examples of new technologies that have helped nurses work more effectively and efficiently. As part of this, we also consider how these innovations have impacted the quality and experience of patient care.
3 Ways of Improving Communication Between Nurses
Traditionally, information gathering and sharing has been a major challenge for nurses. Everything from a patient’s medical history to the treatments they have received had to be manually recorded in physical documents. These then needed to be shared with the whole care team, who would update them with further observation and treatment details.
Understandably, this left plenty of room for error, with documents often going missing and notes not being taken. It was also an incredibly inefficient process, as nurses often needed to gather information from multiple sources. And, if they needed to follow anything up, they would need to physically track down the relevant care team member.
Thankfully, modern communication technologies have made information sharing much quicker and easier for nurses. Some of the best examples of this are:
1. Handheld Digital Devices
Previously, notes on a patient’s condition and care had to be handwritten and were usually kept by their bed. Now, nurses can access real-time information on a patient anywhere and at any time using a smartphone or tablet. They can also make notes on the patient’s file from their bedside, minimising the risk of important details being missed.
2. eHealth Records
Because medical records have historically been physical documents, they would need to be shared (e.g. by fax) between healthcare providers. This meant that every time a new patient came into a medical facility, nurses would need to hunt down their records.
But with electronic health records, nurses can instantly access a patient’s complete medical history with a few easy clicks. This has significantly improved clinical decision making and means patients don’t need to repeatedly provide their – often sensitive – medical information.
3. Hands-free Communication Devices
While mobile phones have been a real game changer for nurses, they are difficult to use in emergencies or when wearing full PPE. But with hands-free devices, like the Vocera Badge, nurses can quickly and easily provide important updates or call for support. These devices also remove the need to know who’s on call as they automatically connect to the relevant contact or group.
4 Ways of Improving Nurse Resource Management
Not that long ago, nursing involved a lot of paperwork – everything from admission, to treatment, to discharging was manually recorded. While administration still takes up much of a nurse’s day, these processes have been streamlined and, often, automated. This has significantly cut down the need for rework and improved the quality and accuracy of patient and treatment data.
Specifically, the following innovations have led to notable advancement in nursing practises:
1. Workflow and Scheduling Software
When record keeping was paper-based, documents needed to be handed between staff, and scheduling needed to be done well in advance. And, if something required approval, nurses would need to find the person with the right authority and get their signature. Now, updates are shared digitally, approvals automatically workflow to the relevant person, and schedules can be updated in real-time.
2. Check-In Kiosks
Managing patient queues has long been a challenge for medical facilities, with check-ins taking up an undue amount of nurses’ time. Some facilities are addressing this by allowing patients to self-check in – typically using a barcode on their appointment confirmation. This automatically updates the patient management system, notifies staff of their arrival, and directs patients to the relevant area.
3. Stock Management Systems
Manually monitoring stores of important tools and equipment was a laborious and time-consuming task – and one most nurses hated. By digitising this process, facilities get real-time data on their stock levels and can automatically order additional supplies when they get low. Using barcodes on key supplies also helps streamline the checkout process, further improving the quality of resource management data.
4. Equipment Tracking
Gone are the days of nurses needing to pace the halls of their facility to find the treatment tool they need. Now, thanks to GPS tracking, they can spend less time looking for equipment and more time caring for their patients. This is particularly important in emergency situations when every second is precious and quick responses can save lives.
3 Ways of Improving Patient Care
The ultimate measure of a nurse’s success is the quality of the care they provide to their patients. Traditionally, this was heavily dependent on the information, equipment, and other resources they were able to access. However, recent innovations have removed many of these limitations, providing every nurse with most of the tools they need to succeed.
Some of the most significant advancements in nursing that have helped improve the quality of care patients receive are:
Nursing used to be an exclusively “in-person” practice, with both patient and nurse needing to be in the same room. Now, thanks to high-speed internet and advances in video conferencing technology, distance is no longer a barrier to great medical care.
Trained nurses can reach even the most remote locations and do everything from taking obs to supporting the delivery of chemotherapy.
2. Mobile Apps
Mobile apps have become a huge part of our daily lives and there’s now an app for almost every purpose. They’ve also been a major driver of advancements in nursing, connecting nurses with the latest information on conditions and treatments.
There are also mobile apps that help patients monitor common conditions (like this app that helps kids with cancer track their pain levels), which provide invaluable data for planning and administering care.
3. Diagnostic Technologies
Traditional diagnostic methods are known for being painful and highly invasive – drawing blood for testing, for example. They also carry a real risk of complications (e.g. infection) and can increase patient anxiety and discomfort. However, new technologies, like ultrasounds and biosensors, are reducing the invasiveness of testing methods, while increasing the depth of insight they provide.
Some worry that technological advancements in nursing are leading to a less “hands-on” approach to the delivery of care. However, many new technologies are actually freeing up nurses to devote more time to their patients. They are also helping improve the quality and availability of patient data, which can lead to better clinical decision-making.
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