- Common technologies that are changing the healthcare landscape and directly benefiting the nursing field
- How to implement new nursing technologies and why the training stage is critical to success.
- How to avoid common pitfalls like security threats and generational divides when implementing new healthcare technologies.
In the past decade alone, advancements in technology and nursing apps have greatly transformed the healthcare landscape. Of those most impacted, nurses are one of the top healthcare professions that stand to benefit from emerging technology and advanced medical equipment.
Modern technology allows nurses to communicate more effectively and improve patient care like never before. After talking to over 600 nurses, a 2018 LinkedIn survey revealed that 82 percent of RNs believe that technology is positively affecting their patient care.
The transition to a more deeply integrated, advanced healthcare field creates both new opportunities and challenges for new and seasoned nurses alike. Without the right insight into the benefits of the technology and the right type of training, nurses’ already busy jobs can be slowed down even more.
Top Nursing Technologies
From improved care technologies like battery-powered ventilators to better workflow-enabling software that can function on your smartphone, the technologies available to the nurses of today are numerous. Even EHRs, which have been around for decades, are slowly improving to meet the quickly growing needs of nurses.
Here are the most prevalent technologies that are changing the landscape and benefit the nursing field and healthcare as a whole:
Smart Phones and Nursing Apps
One of the most important technologies that nurses use every day is their own smartphones or a hospital provided healthcare grade device. Nurses rely on smartphone technology to quickly get in touch with their colleagues, monitor their patients, and look up relevant clinical information in a variety of nursing apps. They can spend less time tracking down phone numbers and colleagues and more time focusing on why you got into nursing in the first place – caring for patients.
And that is just the beginning of what smartphones can offer. Modern nursing apps and cloud-based clinical collaboration platforms that you can access from your smartphone allow nurses to optimize their existing workflows and improve patient care.
With secure texting, cloud-based clinical collaboration platforms enable fast and secure messaging for nurses and other care team members. That way, nurses can communicate with their colleagues in real-time on a HIPAA-complaint platform – right from their mobile device. With time to care a deciding factor in many healthcare outcomes, the enhanced usability of smartphones is invaluable.
Integrated IV pumps
Hospitals use infusion pumps with nearly 90 percent of their hospitalized patients to deliver vital intravenous medications in a precise, controlled manner. However, while they save countless lives, these complex devices have a history of patient harm.
According to the FDA, in addition to device malfunctions, the confusing user interfaces and lack of integrated infusion pumps led to 56,000 adverse drug effects between 2005-2009. Since then, the FDA began the Infusion Pump Improvement Initiative in order to:
- Establish additional operational requirements for infusion pump manufacturers
- Proactively facilitate device improvements
- Increase user awareness
Now, automated IV pumps offer better integrations than ever before, helping nurses ensure that patients receive the medications while almost fully automating the 5 rights of medication administration. . Through barcode medication scanning and linking the patient to the pump they can take the actual programming of the pump off the plate of the RN to help ease their workflow. Advanced infusion pumps can even capture titrations, rate changes for new dosages and new bags hung. This data can flow back to the EHR to further streamline and reduce the number of steps and reduce the documentation burden required of the nurse.
Wireless Monitoring Devices
Gone are the days when you had to be in the same room as a patient to see how they were doing. Portable and wireless devices now allow a nurse to monitor a patient from anywhere in the hospital.
Without having to be right by their bedside, nurses can watch a patient’s heart rate, blood oxygen levels, pulse, and more at all times of the day through mobile apps. When these devices are integrated with other nursing apps, you can set up your smartphone to receive alarms when something is outside of the patient’s desired parameters.
Keeping patients out of the hospital not only benefits the patient but the burden on the health system as a whole. At home, patients can track things like their glucose and subsequent insulin dosing, long term cardiac monitoring for trending arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, or daily blood pressure and upload from home to allow and nursing care coordinators to track and trend their patients without bringing them in for appointments.
In the acute hospital, receiving only the most critical of alerts to the smartphone cloud-based clinical collaboration platform can ensure that nurses are interrupted appropriately by the monitoring device.
Implementing New Nursing Technologies
Benefiting from nursing technologies is not always as easy as flipping a switch. You have to actively work to support nurses in their efforts and help to alleviate the inherent issues associated with change.
A health system’s decision on new technologies to implement must include nurses to validate the technology will benefit them. It is also critical to understand the training needed for nursing technology. Some lengthy trainings may be expensive to the health system when it requires sending all nurses to hours-long training. Implementing nursing apps that can be trained through learning management systems or with little in person classes make the ROI realized more quickly. Training with a “why” strategy engages nurses more than a “how” strategy. Nurses need to see the benefit to the technology and there is really only one shot to do that and it’s during training.
Since there can be the view that technology can take away from a nurse’s time (not add to it), hospitals must make certain that they avoid the common pitfalls of technology adoption. Typical hurdles include:
“Replacing” the Human Element
Many see technology as a replacement for person-to-person interactions. In addition to pharmacists, nurses are some of the most trusted healthcare professionals, and a lot of that stems from the time that they spend with patients.
While this is a natural fear, the reality is that advanced technology and nursing apps actually allow RNs to spend more time with their patients when implemented correctly. The efficiency gains that nurses receive from better technology-enabled workflows means that you can connect with patients on a deeper level instead of spending what feels like all of your time on clerical tasks.
Standard texting apps are potential weak points for data breaches. However, cloud-based clinical collaboration platforms can help nurses avoid this pitfall while still offering a quick and reliable means of communication.
Together, baby boomers and Gen Xers make up over 80 percent of the nursing workforce. While older generations are perfectly capable of adopting new technologies, their perceived lack of tech-savvy skills often makes them slower to adopt new workflows.
According to a published 2015 article, rapid technological advances are often a deciding factor for why older nurses retire. This means that care teams and upper healthcare management need to support nurses no matter their age or technical skills, and provide tailored assistance to meet the needs of each RN.