There is no doubting the fact that technology makes the lives of modern humanity easier, but while there are obvious places to look when it comes to technological improvement in recent years – such as electric cars, video conferencing apps and cryptocurrency – which have turned whole industries on their heads overnight, you might not consider healthcare to be in this group.
However, technology is being integrated into healthcare processes at lightning speed, transforming everything from the accuracy of data to the monitoring of patients, the recording of medical processes, and a greater ability to access patient data at the click of a button.
This is particularly transformative for nurses, who increasingly rely on these technological innovations in order to do their jobs to the best of their ability. In fact, in some instances it is completely changing how a nurse interacts with their patients, inputs information, and how they use that information.
For example, patient data is the most precious information a nurse has to collect, collate, store and access. It is a highly stressful group of tasks, requiring pinpoint accuracy, organization and care to prevent any inputting of false information, miscommunication with other nurses, or a leaking of sensitive patient data.
In this instance, blockchain technology is increasingly being used to store patient data, which, due to its decentralized structure, makes it all but impossible to steal, and difficult to store false information.
This takes the burden off the hospital to store the data in-house, and allows nurses to access the data they need far faster, with minimal risk of error.
However, there are other crucial uses of technology that are transforming work processes for nurses. Portable monitors are now being used by nurses to keep track of patient wellbeing, alerting them if there is a change of condition (they can monitor heart rates and blood pressure, for example), or if a patient needs their urgent assistance. In such a fast-paced environment, this is crucial.
This is how technology is transforming the way nurses do their jobs:
Technology is transforming medical education
Firstly, technology is transforming the way that trainees qualify as nurses.
In the past, you had to leave your life behind and travel to a university in order to work towards your nursing qualification. This approach is flawed, because it requires you to potentially give up your income stream, romantic relationship, social life, family and housing in order to pursue your career.
However, thanks to online courses, this is no longer the only way you can qualify as a nurse. For example, if you want to train as a family nurse practitioner, you could enroll in one of the online FNP programs you can find out more about via this link: https://onlinenursing.twu.edu/programs/online-ms-fnp.
This allows you to complete the course from home, working at your own pace, without having to change your lifestyle. Naturally, this is most useful if you are already working within the healthcare industry, and you want to graduate to becoming a family nurse practitioner, because you can keep your current job (gaining useful experience in the process), while studying.
Blockchain could enhance data accuracy and interoperability
One of the most groundbreaking technologies to emerge over the past decade has been blockchain. You might recognize blockchain’s most famous offshoot, Bitcoin, but few people understand how many other uses blockchain tech has – not least in healthcare.
Blockchains make up decentralized networks, which store data. Due to their heavy encryption, it is almost impossible to suffer data leaks or to input false information onto a blockchain, which makes them an ideal resource for nurses looking to store their patient’s data.
Given the frequency of medical data leaks, storing sensitive information on a blockchain can relieve pressure on medical establishments to build their own security system to protect it.
Although the use of blockchain technology in U.S hospitals is still small, countries such as Estonia are already incorporating blockchain into their medical processes to great effect.
Transcribing tools help staff keep track of information
A particularly challenging aspect of a nurse’s job is to input information quickly and accurately. When you have to hurriedly record that you have administered a medicine to a patient, that their condition has changed, or that you have simply performed a checkup, you need to be able to record it instantly, potentially while on the move.
This is why transcription tools are so helpful. They allow nurses to record their voice, which then automatically inputs the information in text form. This is especially useful if a nurse is on the move in the hospital, and cannot afford to stop and type out the message.
Electronic medical records help make it easier and more accurate to pool patient data
Electronic medical records help nurses to be able to input, exchange and access patient medical records via an electronic server.
By digitalizing patient medical records, nurses can access the right information at the point of care, without having to spend lots of time trying to search for files which may have been organized incorrectly. EMRs help reduce the propensity for human error, increase productivity, and ensure appropriate care is being given.
Portable monitors help nurses check on patients when they are elsewhere
Another technological innovation which is being used increasingly by nurses is the portable monitor, which notifies medical staff of a patient’s condition.
This is immensely useful because nurses often have to be in multiple places at once, attending to different patients and liaising with colleagues. By being able to monitor patients via a portable device, they can make sure that patients are safe and feel reassured by having medical staff monitoring them remotely.
Smart beds keep patients safe
Smart beds are similar to portable monitors in that they allow nurses to keep track of each patient’s condition. The difference is that a smart bed is, well, a medical bed which monitors the patient’s condition and uploads it to the EMR.
This is another way in which medical staff can keep on top of patient care and ensure everyone is receiving the care they need. It also allows nurses to delegate care towards the patients who are most urgently in need, which is useful if the team is short staffed.