From managing information, and setting expectations for the incoming shift, to monitoring IV’s and dispensing meds, technology in nursing has changed the work style of nurses and streamlined patient care, all in just a matter of years. There’s no denying technology has made nursing much more efficient, and the failsafe methods of tracking important information, such as vitals, meds, etc. have proven invaluable. But in what other ways has technology in nursing changed the work style of nurses?
Many nurses stepping onto their career path today have been raised with technology know-how. These nurses grew up and came of age navigating the internet, utilizing smart phones, and even taking some of their college courses online. Technology in nursing is only one of the many ways these individuals use the latest advances in their day-to-day lives.
Technology in nursing, and in healthcare all across the board, has made it possible for nurses to provide patient care, update records, and obtain lab reports all with the click of a mouse. With less chasing down of information, and fewer hard copies of records to keep track of, nurses are much more free to provide hands-on patient care. Here are some of the ways in which technology in nursing has changed the way nurses do their jobs.
Monitoring Vital Signs, IVs, and Administering Medications
Wireless monitoring of patient vital signs has allowed not only patients more freedom, but nurses as well. Certain patient events are typically preceded by changes in vital signs. With continuous monitoring in healthcare facilities, nurses can be free to provide care among patients, while still keeping an eye out for any changes in heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and the like.
Nearly two decades ago the smart pumps, with dose error-reduction systems, were introduced into patient care. With it’s integrative technology, and the ability to manage and monitor IVs wirelessly, these smart pumps are still improving efficiency through technology in nursing. You’ll know immediately when the fluids are running low, or if the tube is kinked.
Technology in nursing has even improved the way medications are provided to patients. Through a system of bar codes, automatic dispensing devices, and smart phone reference ability, ensuring patients get the right meds has never been easier.
Managing Patient Information
Technology can help nurses gather seemingly unrelated information garnered through observation, and put it into a report that could, potentially, save a patient’s life. Different changes in vital signs, urine output, pulse, and other system vitals can signal such things as the potential for a blood clot, or cardiac event. Additionally, when patient information is handled using technology in nursing, it becomes much easier to hand over a patient to the next nurse, on the next shift.
Accuracy in Communication
Sit down in front of the terminal at the nurses station and you can access up-to-date patient information, including labs in a matter of seconds. In days of old, a nurse had to await delivery of lab results via phone. This type of technology in nursing allows you to communicate with other care providers and pose a concern, or be given instructions from the physician, if necessary.
You can now utilize technology in nursing to schedule your shifts, request time off, approve your time sheet, or even communicate with coworkers when you need assistance covering your shift. Emergencies arise and it isn’t always easy to alert your management, or find someone to help you when, say, you or your child fall ill, or there’s a family emergency of some kind. With smartphone applications such as Shiftboard, you can now manage your schedule whenever, and wherever, you need.
It’s now possible for you to download myriad reference guides. From meds and their formulas, to guides to help you read and understand lab tests’ results, it’s all right there on your smartphone. This eliminates much of the running around, chasing down information that will benefit your patient, and enables you to provide continuity in patient care.
Education Technology in Nursing
Whether you’re a nursing student, a new nurse, or a seasoned pro, healthcare is constantly changing, and evolving. In order to provide the best in patient care it’s up to you to stay educated and focused on the latest information. Technology in nursing is an excellent tool for staying on top of trends and changes in healthcare. Much of the education for credentialing, certifications, and various types of protocol training can now be done via videoconferencing.
Technology in nursing schools has enabled students to use sim-labs to recreate real life scenarios, with robotic “patients”, giving students a feeling of hands-on care as they prepare for the real thing. These nursing students learn to manage a central line, pass a nasogastric tube, and insert IVs on lifelike patient mannequins, ensuring they will be ready for their clinical experience.
As you can see technology in nursing has come a long way, and the future promises even more changes. One thing we can all be sure of is that as technology evolves, patient care will only get better. And nurses are sure to be in the driver’s seat.