Top Technological Advancements Nurses Need to be Familiar With
With every year that passes, new and improved technological advances are released that benefit the healthcare industry. Medical professionals should remain updated on these developments and incorporate them into their daily responsibilities.
Here are some of the newest devices and tools that are changing patient care as we know it in the 21st century and why they are vital to nurses:
Electronic health records
The shift to smartphones and tablets is more prevalent within the field, and patient records have become more streamlined as well. Nurses will be hard-pressed to find a facility that utilizes paper documents as their main form of recordkeeping. Instead, the majority of hospitals and clinics have transitioned to electronic versions of this paperwork. Electronic health records (EHRs) have made it easy for nurses to quickly pull up patient history, medication information and more on the job.
With everything at the touch of a button, EHRs offer nurses a large number of advantages. Most importantly, these providers can make more informed, safe and efficient treatment decisions with this digital information, according to HealthIT.gov, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other advantages include increased care coordination, cost savings, patient participation and improved patient outcomes, to name a few. EHRs enable nurses to continue communicating with their patients after they have left a medical facility. Sending emails regarding symptoms can help medical professionals diagnose conditions more quickly and the ability to manage appointment schedules online can ensure both parties are always aware of upcoming obligations.
Implantable drug devices
Nurses want to make sure their patients not only have access to necessary medications but also adhere to a potential pre-determined schedule for administering these drugs. For patients, having to visit a medical facility every time an intravenous drug, pill or another type of treatment is required can be overwhelming and tiring.
Today, more and more hospitals and clinics are introducing implantable devices that facilitate drug delivery. Nurses and physicians can work together to coordinate a care schedule and program timely releases of the medication to the site where the drug is needed most, according to Medical Design Technology magazine. These devices will be easier for people to comply with and reduce the burden on patients, who may only have to visit a medical professional to resupply the drug through an access port. While the most common example may be an intrauterine device (IUD) for women’s health purposes, this form of drug administration has also found success in administering insulin for diabetes and histrelin implants for prostate cancer.
It’s a common occurrence in any field: An employee calls in sick, which leaves the workers in attendance to pick up the slack. As a result, they may potentially find themselves overwhelmed with the number of responsibilities they have to take on in addition to their own. This can be especially harmful in the healthcare industry, especially in the case of nurses. Having an inadequate amount of these healthcare providers on the floor during certain shifts can result in higher patient numbers for those who are present, as well as reduced quality of care and diminished patient experience.
To manage these situations, medical facilities could implement technology such as workforce management software. This tool offers nurses an online portal where they can see their schedule, identify shifts or departments lacking help and pick up shifts that meet their level of experience and expertise with certain conditions and patients, according to American Nurse Today. By uploading their qualifications to the system, the software improve overall nurse management and leadership by finding qualified professionals when hospitals and their departments are short-handed. These solutions can also remind healthcare providers to keep their licensure and certification requirements up to date, giving them a countdown on important expirations, as well as alert nurses to when there is an immediate need for additional help for upcoming shifts, easing that responsibility for facility leaders who would normally be in charge of finding competent replacements.
In the past, using robots in the healthcare industry may have seemed like an unbelievable, futuristic idea. Advancements have been made, however, that make this prospect more of a reality in today’s medical field. Nursing as a profession is expected to grow 19 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the increasing age of current professionals, in addition to the rise of elderly patients, is causing a shortage of these healthcare providers.
The rise of robotics is intended to face this nurse scarcity head-on within the fields of nanomedicine and biomechatronics as well as by providing direct care to patients, according to a study published in The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing in 2013. The latter responsibility will be most impactful on nursing, as robots will be expected to participate in surgical procedures, provide assistance to elderly patients and act as couriers within medical facilities. Although prototypes are still in development for those tasks, mental service robots are already being put to the test in places such as Japan. Paro, an advanced interactive robot in the form of a seal-shaped stuff animal has sensors that are responsive to touch, and acts as a therapeutic tool to reduce stress and provide comfort for seniors and children with disabilities such as autism, according to Reuters.
Of course, the question will always be whether a robot is capable of providing the same level of human emotion necessary to the success of being a nurse. Only time will tell as more advancements into this type of technology are made and its effects on the medical field are understood.
Nurses have incredibly busy schedules and shifts, with little downtime to rest and relax. As a result, every minute is important and can mean the difference between a positive or negative patient outcome. When these healthcare providers need a piece of equipment, such as a blood pressure machine or wheelchair, time is of the essence. Tracking down these items can be a time-consuming task, but technological advancements can make the process more efficient. Locating systems are able to find necessary tools with the help of radiofrequency identification tags, infrared technology or ultrasound, according to Nursing Critical Care.
Using a mobile device, nurses can quickly identify an available machine and locate it with ease – improving overall patient flow and bed management. Locating systems in the form of clip-on tags or wearable bracelets can also be utilized to track down patients who are in various stages of their healthcare process, whether it’s seeing a doctor, getting an x-ray or being discharged. Nurses can gain increased efficiency with this tool, as it helps them better understand the responsibilities ahead for each patient.
A RN-BS in Nursing from Rutgers University will prepare nurses already on the job to adapt to the technological developments that will be a part of – and aid in – the advancement of their careers.