Today’s global healthcare ecosystem screams for new processes, models, systems, and products that meet the Quadruple Aim—better population management, reduced costs, and improved patient and clinician experience. By leveraging emerging technologies, the nursing profession is facilitating the attainment of these goals. Meeting these imperatives will be impossible without nurses, as they are the biggest group of practicing clinicians on the planet, making them significant users of health technologies for patient care delivery.
As healthcare technology advances, nurses are on the front lines of implementing the most recent improvements to serve their patients better. Technology continues to affect the nursing sector in various ways, with the rate of change projected to accelerate over time. Continue reading to learn how this might play out, whether nurses will be replaced by technology, and the most recent developments and advancements in healthcare.
As the population ages, life expectancy rises, and the nursing crisis persists, these new medical technologies will be critical for patient care and the healthcare system. New medical technologies have the potential to make life easier for both medical personnel and patients. For example, certain technologies can help doctors and nurses manage a big patient load by making patient care more manageable and efficient. They can also help people get their care by providing more convenient and accessible options. In addition, many of these new medical technologies are helping the nursing profession with everyday processes and reducing human errors that can occur when too few nurses work long hours with too many patients.
Because they are an essential part of the process and will eventually use the technology, many nurses are becoming involved in designing, developing, and implementing technology systems and applications. As a result, nursing informatics has grown in popularity as a specialization. Nurses in nursing informatics handle data, data storage, information retrieval, and much more. They use their in-depth understanding of the area to identify the finest technology and data systems to apply in a specific hospital, clinic, or another facility. This position is critical for experienced nurses because their knowledge and expertise help them see what technology will work best to improve patient care.
Nursing informatics has been campaigning for the integration of technology to aid the healthcare industry for some time. Nursing informaticians are primarily located in the US, where it appears to have started; however, many other nations are beginning to expand the technological nursing workforce and involvement of informatics in their countries. That is why graduate entry nursing programs like Elmhurst University’s online Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (MENP) program are vital. It is specifically developed for a student with a bachelor’s degree in another subject who desires to enter nursing. Students will receive a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree while preparing for the registered nurse license exam (NCLEX-RN) and clinical nurse leader (CNL) certification through this online course.
Globally, there is still discourse about the subsequent measures the nursing industry should take to maximize and improve its use of digital technology. This discussion is complicated by the profession’s global reach, which includes unequal access to resources in technical infrastructure experience and maturity. However, technology has already done much for the domain and helped it evolve into the 21st century. Let’s look at some examples of how technology has changed nursing.
Ways technology has changed nursing
Technological advancements in nursing practice have changed how nurses execute their daily jobs. Indeed, stronger links between nursing and technology allow nurses to spend less time on mundane duties and more time with patients. In addition, nursing leaders’ adoption of this technology contributes to increased nurse efficiency in their units. Here are a few of the ways technology has helped nurses worldwide.
Medication administration – Medications and IVs have come a long way since nurses made rounds checking intravenous records. The introduction of smart pumps has eased medication and intravenous fluid administration. Nurses can adjust the correct rate more efficiently, and warnings for kinked tubing or low fluid levels mean nurses will be alerted should an issue arise. With safety checks, technology helps prevent medication mishaps, and some facilities use nurse “robots” for medicine distribution.
Blood pressure monitoring – A sphygmomanometer, often known as an automated blood pressure cuff, determines a patient’s heart rate. Nurses are thankful for their time and effort savings when caring for many patients. Prior to the invention of the automatic blood pressure cuff, a nurse had to manually record a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate using a hand-pumped cuff. All nurses are required to do now is slip a patient’s arm into the cuff and get them to sit motionless. Automatic handcuffs are more efficient, precise, and less prone to human error.
Data management – Managing nursing information used to mean arranging stacks of files, folders, charts, and notes for patients and staff. The way nurses manage information is changing because of technological advancements. EMRs are computerized reproductions of all the paper charts, notes, and folders. These technologies enable nurses to track data over time, view a patient’s medical history at the bedside, and quickly access information. It also means that files are much less likely to be lost, as a digital trail for each patient can be accessed on multiple devices.
Communication – Instant messaging and team collaboration platforms that enable multi-disciplinary teams are increasingly facilitating communication across healthcare settings. This means that coordinating care is becoming more streamlined and thus more efficient for nurses, who typically provide the lynchpin services of these teams. For example, point-of-care testing and access to bedside test results shorten the time it takes to identify and diagnose patients. At the same time, enhanced scheduling software allows workers to maintain standards of care across handovers and departments.
Decision making – The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), in which technology is utilized to execute tasks more effectively and efficiently than a human can, has already begun to help to change technology within nursing and in healthcare generally. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, artificial intelligence has proven effective at enhancing clinical decision-making and empowering student education and faculty effectiveness. It can recognize patterns (predictive analytics) and harness the power of big data to improve the overall quality of healthcare services and learning activities because computers can instantly synthesize data from a wide variety of sources.
Remote learning – Because many nursing programs are based in cities, providing good clinical experiences in rural or isolated settings might be challenging. Some online or distance learning programs have been demonstrated to expand access to rural and remote clinical services previously not affiliated with a “brick and mortar” educational institution. On the other hand, Telehealth technologies and simulation laboratories can give relevant and complementing clinical experiences in primary care.
Equipment tracking – The use of GPS tracking has boosted hospital efficiency. It is now easier to tag and track medical equipment than previously. For example, nurses can use radio frequency identification tags to locate the nearest blood pressure machine or other equipment. It may appear simple, but the ability to centrally monitor equipment has dramatically improved bed administration and patient care.
While technology improves communication and other efficiencies, there might be a learning curve when new technology is deployed. These developments also bring with them some privacy concerns. Real people are developing these technologies, and sometimes the wrong people can obtain vital information, resulting in a breach of patient confidentiality. Another essential factor to consider in nursing and technology is how it influences patient interactions.
Will technology ever replace the role of a nurse?
Until recently, the healthcare sector was sluggish in embracing technology due to privacy, confidentiality, and compliance concerns. However, with developments and the creation of security standards and best practices, many practitioners and patients are more willing to welcome technological innovation as it is a crucial instrument supporting patients’ health and well-being. Furthermore, with the present rate of growth in the sector, including breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment, notably the employment of robots in healthcare facilities, some consider robots taking over nurses’ work.
Many people are already anxious about the robotic revolution, but how concerned should nurses be about obsolete employment? In a few nations, such as Japan, where there is a severe shortage of nurses, AI is being employed to replace them entirely. However, the vast bulk of AI is utilized to assist nurses and healthcare personnel. As robots learn to do more nursing activities, such as ambulance support, vital sign measurement, and medicine administration, they will tremendously service nurses in need.
But unless we are talking about hundreds of years in the future, when we do not know what type of technology will be accessible, the possibility of nurses being replaced by robots is almost nil. The main reason for this is that one of a nurse’s main jobs is caring, and we do not just mean the physical and practical parts of care but also the emotional ones. You may have heard the term “bedside manner” while discussing medical practitioners and for a good cause. Being a nurse – or any medical worker – necessitates a caring, compassionate attitude that is easily demonstrated to patients. An excellent nurse will treat their patients with warmth and compassion, making them feel at ease regardless of the ailments or diseases they are suffering from. For now, a robot cannot achieve this without human experience. Being extra gentle with someone who is nervous about a test or giving extra attention to a patient who seems lonely has not yet been coded for mainstream technology.
The uses of artificial intelligence helping to make critical patient decisions have already been mentioned. However, this is not possible without one crucial element – data. Nurses frequently enter the data needed by predictive analytic algorithms, making them essential to data quality. In addition, they should ensure that data is reliable and fair. Therefore, training is an integral component of a successful analytics program. Reducing nurses’ documentation burden is one method to make quality data collection easier. This can be accomplished by ensuring that relevant devices, such as heart monitors and other vital sign monitors, are correctly interfaced with the electronic medical record per appropriate standards. In addition, voice technology allows nurses to document using speech, which is both efficient and hands-free.
Every nurse who chooses to grow, pursue higher education and training, solve problems creatively, and connect emotionally with their patients provides something that a robot cannot. Nurses can delegate routine activities to AI devices, such as testing and medicine administration while focusing on more complicated challenges. This will not only allow nurses to delegate some of their routine chores to machines but also allow them to care for more patients at a higher level. Nurses do not need to be concerned about the security of their jobs as technology advances.
Technology has altered how nurses and care workers provide care for a patient. Technologies’ effect within this sector will grow as innovation continues. Many consider this a good thing, considering the time savings that technological advancements give. However, others are less enthusiastic, claiming that increasing reliance on technology can lead to less personal interaction between patients and their nurses.
Technology in the context of health care is an intriguing mix. On the one hand, no other occupation requires the emotion and compassion only a human can provide. Yet, simultaneously, technological breakthroughs have enabled us to achieve things that were impossible even 60 years ago, opening up new possibilities for the way healthcare professionals work and offer treatment.
While we think that technology should never replace the human element of nursing, it is nevertheless highly crucial in healthcare, laying the groundwork for the profession’s future success. Nurses must take the lead in pushing for the benefits of technology and must be trained to adapt to new technologies to acquire new skill sets.