Have you ever wondered if there is an industry or a profession within an industry that isn’t reliant on technology in some way or another? While nursing is a patient-centric career, technology plays a huge role in what nurses do every hour of every day they are on duty. Whether you are a practicing nurse who wants to keep up with trends in modern healthcare or a student studying for a career in nursing, it behooves you to understand the various ways in which technology can be used within nursing.
1. Online Nursing Degree Programs
It is now possible to get a degree in nursing without attending classes on campus. Whether you are studying for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or advancing your career to a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, all course work can be done online. This is perhaps one of the most appreciated uses of technology for today’s nurses. There are so many advantages to studying online that it would take volumes to list them all.
However, one of the ways in which internet technology is most appreciated is when working as an RN with a BSN degree seeking to advance to that coveted DNP degree. For example, the BSN DNP online track from Baylor University enables you to go from that Bachelor of Science in Nursing to the Doctor of Nursing Practice graduate degree completely online.
There will always be clinicals, but these most often can be done at the hospital you are working at, so again, there is rarely a need to attend classes or seminars on campus.
2. EMRs and EHRs
Here is another technology nurses really appreciate. Gone are the days of weeding through hard copy charts with handwriting that is often anything but legible. Today’s patient records are saved in Electronic Medical Records format or the more commonly used Electronic Health Records. In either case, it is much easier to search the records to find the information needed in patient care.
It is also easier to quickly document such things as a patient’s vitals when taken, the amount of urine excreted, medications dispensed, and so forth. Not only does the use of electronic records make it quicker to document a chart but they can then be immediately accessed by the charge nurse or attending physician without requiring a meeting.
3. Smartphone Apps
One of the most frustrating elements of nursing is the inability to quickly get a hold of physicians or other members of the team. There is now a variety of smartphone apps that facilitate rapid communication. Whether you leave voicemail or text messages, the person or people you are trying to reach can provide almost instantaneous replies without interrupting what they are doing to hold a lengthy conversation.
This is something many patients and visitors comment on when spending any amount of time in a hospital. They comment on not hearing those pages over the hospital’s intercom. Many may guess at the reason, but for those who don’t, it’s because that institution is relying on smartphone or similar communications. So, this technology is not only appreciated by nurses and medical staff but by patients and visitors as well.
There was nothing more annoying than being awoken at 3AM by the voice over the intercom calling for a doctor assumed to be on the premises. In fact, many hospitals are now using this technology to communicate Code Blue (among other codes) to members of the team. In this way, patients aren’t disturbed by the intercom and aren’t stressed by the thought of someone coding on their floor.
4. Implants for Dosing of Medicines
This is something appreciated by healthcare workers and patients alike, the benefit being the ability to get accurate dosing each and every time. Unfortunately, there is always the chance of human error but once the parameters are set, technology rarely makes dosing errors. It’s safer, easier, and faster to use hi-tech implants for the dosing of medication.
5. Online Access Reference Materials
Today’s nurses have easy access to literally any reference materials needed in patient care. From looking up precautions and side effects of specific medications listed in PDRs to researching symptoms they are noticing, the speed at which answers can be found is amazing. Nurses no longer need to excuse themselves from the patient’s room to access reference materials at the nurses’ station.
Also, with the speed of digital searches, there is no longer a need to pick up reference book after reference book just to find the answers to questions being posed. The time saved is better spent actually working with patients.
6. AI in Healthcare
Artificial Intelligence is still in its infancy in healthcare, but the ultimate purpose is to improve patient outcomes. This is especially pertinent to nurses working as DNPs because AI can quickly quantify and qualify data to propose possible treatments, medications, and procedures. While it will still be up to the physician to make the decision as to which option to follow, the rapidity of possible treatments and outcomes is an amazing feat in and of itself. Bear in mind that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are advancing in the area of Big Data and Data Analytics. With that said, healthcare is set to reap benefits never before possible.
A Summary of Technology as It Relates to Nursing
While there are many professions that fear technology as something that may eliminate their jobs, this will never be the case in healthcare. There will always be a need for that human touch so necessary within healthcare and technology is only being developed to improve patient outcomes while making a nurse or doctor’s job infinitely easier. In the end it is assumed that the use of technology will not only improve patient outcomes but will enable doctors and nurses to serve a greater number of patients. By offering simpler and faster solutions, there will be more time to treat patients, and with a critical shortage of healthcare professionals, this is the greatest benefit of all.