Technology in Nursing: How Electronics Are Changing the Field
By Lauren Elrick on 09/26/2017
As technology advances, so does its influence in healthcare. Nurses must now be tech savvy to navigate online charting systems, update health records, schedule care and more. In days past, patient information was kept in carefully filed, handwritten charts. Now, technology in nursing has made it easier than ever to keep patient info efficiently recorded and stored.
“There can be temporary drawbacks when a technology is first implemented, but these are outweighed by the long-term benefits of the technology,” explains Anthony Sartor, registered nurse. “It’s of vital importance that nurses are given the necessary education to use new technologies that are being introduced in their workplaces.”
Technological advances aren’t likely to slow down any time soon. So what are the repercussions of integrating tech into nursing? Is there a general consensus about its ability to help or hurt the system? Join us as we dig deeper.
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What are some recent examples of technology changes in nursing?
One of the biggest technological changes that’s arisen in the field of nursing is electronic charting. Instead of filling out charts with pen and paper, most nurses are now required to review information and fill out charts online. Many patients can now also access their own medical records and test results through these online patient portals. This assists in closing the communication gap and getting information to patients quickly and efficiently.
Other updates, according to RightPatient, include pagers or cell phones for enhanced communication between nurses, doctors and patients, GPS tagging and tracking of medical equipment, enhanced diagnostic devices, smarter alarm systems and lifting devices that allow nurses to lift patients without injuring themselves.
What are the benefits of technology in nursing?
“I view the main benefits of technology in nursing as improving patient care—both in terms of how optimal and efficient care are being delivered,” says Sartor. “I find that much of the technology is being implemented to improve nurses’ communication with other nurses, physicians and patients.”
Generally speaking, technology is used to make life easier, and it’s making a big difference in how the nurses do their jobs. Medical personnel can now communicate quickly when there’s an emergency, and there’s no risk of losing or wrecking files due to bad handwriting or spilled substances.
The end game for a nurse is to help people and save lives. With technological advances making their jobs easier and advancing care for patients, the amount of people nurses can help is likely to increase.
“The benefits are significant,” explains Simon Frey, co-founder of Pivot Health. “Nurses can deliver a greater patient experience and contribute to better healthcare outcomes. Technology can automate more routine or less value-adding elements of the patient experience, helping nurses to significantly improve customer satisfaction and engagement.”
What are some potential drawbacks?
While technology certainly helps with communication and spurs other efficiencies, there can be a learning curve when new technology is implemented.
“A drawback I’ve observed is a lack of ability to communicate effectively,” says Sartor. “For example, when charting electronically, it’s extremely important that the application provides enough options to allow nurses to properly convey their information. Many of my co-workers become frustrated because they aren’t able to express themselves and properly communicate patient information on the application.”
There are also some privacy risks that come with these advancements. Real people are developing these technologies, and sometimes, the wrong people can get a hold of important information and there can be a breach in patient confidentiality.
“Technology allows for the storage of unprecedented amounts of patient data,” says Sartor. “It’s vital that companies ensure this data is being stored securely and that databases can’t be infiltrated illegally.”
Another important consideration when it comes to nursing and technology is how it affects interactions with patients.
“In some ways, you get more face-to-face time with your patient because additions to the electronic record are made in real-time,” says Sharon M. Weinstein, a former RN. “In other ways, you lose valuable patient time while being brought up to speed on new technologies.”
How will electronics continue to evolve in the field of nursing?
The use of technology in medical devices is skyrocketing forward, and that bodes well for the general public. As researchers, scientists, engineers and doctors continue to make leaps forward with these innovations, more lives will be saved and more patients will receive assistance.
When it comes to nursing, many of the advances center on communication and the ability for nurses to complete their jobs accurately and efficiently.
“I believe technology will continue to evolve nursing as more workplace applications—both mobile and desktop—are introduced to allow staff to better communicate with each other,” says Sartor. “Additionally, I think there is a rising trend of technology being used to give patients better access to their plan of care and the ability for them to communicate with nurses through a technological medium without the need for face-to-face interaction.”
The world of nursing is fascinating
Does reading about the technological advances in the field of nursing get you excited for what a career in nursing could look like for you? If you’re looking for more resources, blogs are a particularly great way to read up on what’s current, as well as what’s up-and-coming in the world of nursing. Check out these 30 nursing blogs that are a must read for both current and aspiring nurses.