Technology moves quickly, and its advancements touch many areas of society. In healthcare, some types of technology help to streamline things, and others are akin to a revolution that could potentially redefine how care is delivered. For modern nurses, this presents both challenges and opportunities. In this article, we will explore this topic further and delve into how nursing is changing and how modern nurses can stay ahead of the curve.
The tech-driven healthcare landscape
Modern healthcare technologies are driving a digital transformation in the healthcare industry. Digitalization has enabled physicians and nurses to access a wide range of medical data anytime, anywhere. Whether it’s artificial intelligence (AI), telemedicine or electronic health records (EHRs), these technologies have enabled more efficient delivery of care. They have also improved patient outcomes by reducing errors and enhancing coordination between providers.
The shift to tech-driven methods has a number of advantages for nurses. They now have better access to data on demand, which allows them to fully understand a situation before making a decision. It also enables remote monitoring of patients and presents new opportunities for collaboration with physicians and other members of the care team. New technology also allows nurses to provide faster responses when diagnosing or treating illnesses, reducing wait times in clinics or hospitals.
Another benefit of these modern tools is that they give nurses easier access to evidence-based information. This means that they can make care decisions quickly based on best practices established through research studies conducted all over the world. EHRs are another example of having access to data on demand, as they allow for real-time sharing of medical information between different caregivers throughout the hospital system. The result of this is that everyone involved is always up to date in terms of diagnosis and treatment plans without having to rely solely upon verbal communication between providers during rounds.
Many hospitals across the US have been quick adopters of new technology. Massachusetts General Hospital uses predictive analytics to optimize its EHR data, and many hospitals use telemedicine platforms to help prevent overcrowding. These are just a couple of examples of how technology is having an impact on healthcare.
The modern nurse
Modern nurses need to possess many skills and competencies to navigate this tech-driven environment effectively. They must know how to use these digital tools and be comfortable learning new ways to use new technology. They must have strong communication skills that translate across different platforms and the ability to use data for decision-making. The industry will keep changing as new technology is created, so modern nurses must also be adaptive and resilient.
Digital literacy for nurses wasn’t that important 30 years ago, but it is today. Today’s nursing professionals must have basic computer literacy and be comfortable navigating digital tools – whether that is EHRs, telemedicine applications or patient portals. It’s a good idea for nurses to keep up to date with new technology that might make its way to the hospital setting in the future.
The role of nursing schools
In the same way that the role of nurses is evolving, so also is the role of nursing education. The nurses of tomorrow must be prepared for a tech-driven healthcare industry, and nursing schools have a huge role to play in that. One way that they are achieving this is through simulation and virtual learning. These practices give students the opportunity to practice with innovative equipment such as virtual reality (VR) and robotics.
The integration of technology into nursing education is also driving current trends in both the short and long term. The future could potentially involve anything from robotic surgery systems to computerized patient record systems, and nursing schools recognize the need to teach technological skills. Many schools have also begun offering classes on health informatics and other tech-savvy topics. Often, these subjects would not have been part of the curriculum in the past.
In terms of specific schools, there is a range of options. If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a nurse practitioner in North Carolina, you could consider the online MSN-FNP from Texas Woman’s University. The course will teach you how to be a leader and communicate effectively, and also to evaluate critically so that you can provide compassionate care.
Staying ahead of the curve
Staying ahead of the curve can be tricky for nurses. They are already very busy, but with so many new tools and systems in use at hospitals and health clinics, it is essential. The first step for nurses is to recognize the need for ongoing education about healthcare tech. This means reading industry news or even attending conferences or webinars. Nurses should aim to be familiar with any upcoming policy or regulation changes in relation to technology that may have an impact on how they do their job.
Another important strategy is to embrace change and keep an open mind. This could mean attending training sessions and speaking to colleagues about the best ways to use different types of software or tools. Nurses could also consider developing relationships with the vendors of the tools themselves. Doing so may lead to additional resources or even hands-on demonstrations about the best way to use them. These relationships could also lead to early access to product updates or new features in the future.
Another simple way to stay ahead of the curve for nurses is to expand their network. If you connect with nurses and health professionals from other hospitals around the country on platforms such as LinkedIn, you will regularly be exposed to the work they are doing. This could result in learning about new technologies and processes before they make their way to your workplace.
The role of continued education
Continuous professional development is key for most industries, and this is also true in nursing. It’s not enough to simply learn things once and expect that this is how things will be for the rest of your career. This is especially true given the pace of technology. Healthcare organizations continuously roll out new technologies, processes and protocols. Without proper knowledge and education on these changes, nurses can quickly fall behind.
If a nurse wanted to go down a more formal path, they could consider an accredited nursing program or certificate program that would give them a more in-depth look into different areas of healthcare tech. If they would prefer a more informal approach, they could consider online forums, webinars and podcasts. These can all be great ways of continuing to learn.
Nurses could also consider courses by professional nursing bodies such as the American Nurses Association (ANA). Many employers recognize certification from accredited bodies such as the ANA. This could help nurses from a career advancement perspective. Continued education is also another reason why nurses should grow their professional networks. Actively engaging with other healthcare professionals is a great way to learn about things that you never would have otherwise.
Nurses should understand that continuing education isn’t just an investment toward bettering themselves but is also beneficial for patients. By having the most up-to-date and research-backed practices, your patients will receive the best care.
Tech-driven interdisciplinary collaboration
Technology continues to play an important role in facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration and communication among healthcare professionals. Nurses serve as essential members of these teams, working alongside physicians, social workers, psychologists and other medical professionals.
In addition to facilitating collaboration between disciplines within a single organization, technology is also allowing for improved communication across multiple institutions. One example is that nurses can now share patient data securely with primary care physicians at different locations via EHRs. They can also use online video conferencing tools to connect hospitals that are far away from each other. This enhanced access to information not only helps improve the quality of care that patients receive, but also speeds up the delivery of services significantly. Eliminating unnecessary delays associated with antiquated manual processes makes everyone’s life easier.
One potential barrier here is the lack of proper training related to new technology. This has been identified as one of the main challenges facing interdisciplinary collaborations today. It’s for this reason that nurses must be provided with adequate training and that they continue to self-educate. Despite some of these challenges, there are many examples of successful tech-driven collaboration in healthcare.
We mentioned the ability for multiple organizations to connect with one another via video conferencing. This is also true for different departments within the same organization. Small changes such as being able to quickly communicate with team members and everyone having the most up-to-date information about a patient’s case can have a huge positive effect on patient outcomes and also saves time.
Nurses as tech innovators
Not only can nurses embrace the technological changes coming to healthcare, but they can also be the ones driving it. Consider the intimate nature of nursing. Nurses are privy to information through their time with patients that no one else is aware of. This type of information could be used to develop nurse-led initiatives to improve patient care. To illustrate this, let’s say that a nurse notices a recurring pattern in patients leading to improved medication adherence. Potentially, a mobile app could be built to improve medication adherence for patients all over the world.
Another example of tech innovation in nursing comes from a nurse named Rebecca Koszalinski. She developed a tool called ‘Speak for Myself’, which helps intubated and voiceless patients communicate their needs. This is a perfect example to highlight that nurses are not just the end users of healthcare technology – they also have a role to play at the frontlines of innovation.
Data security and ethics
One thing that nurses may not have considered is data security as it relates to technology. The importance of patient confidentiality is well understood, but digital technology has created some new risks. Healthcare providers must ensure that the information they store is secure and accurately reflects patient care. Nurses play an important role in upholding these standards, as they are responsible for data management and interacting with patients on a daily basis.
When it comes to data security, nurses should be aware of potential risks with digital tools. Things such as unauthorized access or theft of EHRs are two considerations. Nurses must make sure that they follow all data security processes set out by their organization. Leaks and breaches of confidential data can have a big negative impact on an organization, particularly one in the healthcare sphere.
There are also ethical considerations for nurses to take into account. As with any new technology, we can sometimes get blinded by the positive aspects and not see new problems being created. It is for this reason that nurses should remain cognizant of how their decisions and these tools can potentially impact patient outcomes both positively and negatively. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you notice something negative occurring as a result of new tech.
Of course, nurses will also need to make sure that they stay up to date with any regulatory changes around data security. This could be at the organizational level or through rules set out by government entities such as HIPAA. Being knowledgeable about the dos and don’ts is the best way to ensure that you’re in compliance.
The impact on patient care
The next important consideration is the impact on patient care and outcomes that tech may have. It’s all well and good for nursing processes to be streamlined, but are the patient outcomes also improving? Technology is enabling more personalized care options to be available for patients, as well as improved access to information about their health conditions online. It also provides nurses with more opportunities to empower their patients in managing their own health through education and support services. Nurses play a key role in supporting personalized patient care, so they must make sure that the patient feels heard.
Tech advancements have also had a significant impact on how nurses communicate with patients. One example that we’ve already mentioned is telehealth. These systems allow nurses to stay connected with their patients face-to-face (even if only digitally). Particularly if the patient lives far away or has a very busy work life, this can greatly strengthen the relationship between nurse and patient. This then leads to the nurse having a better understanding of the full picture of the patient, and they are then better placed to make sure that all of the patient’s needs are being met.
One potential challenge here is becoming too reliant on technology. If we continue with the telehealth example, while it’s a great supplement to patient care, it shouldn’t be seen as a complete replacement. As technology makes things easier for us, we sometimes find ourselves relying on it too much – ultimately defeating the purpose of using it in the first place. Nurses must also make sure that patients feel comfortable using newer technology. This is especially true when dealing with older patients who may not be as tech-savvy as younger ones. In this scenario, nurses can provide mini-training sessions or guidance on how to use them or provide alternative solutions.
Preparing for the future of tech-driven healthcare
The healthcare industry has already seen significant change due to technology, and this is set to continue. Technology will play a larger role than ever before. Nurses must be prepared for these changes and continue to learn and adapt. Understanding expected trends and advancements can help nurses prepare for a long career.
Telemedicine may expand even further in the future. Real-time monitoring of vital signs is becoming more popular, and we may find a situation where nurses and other healthcare professionals often visit patients rather than the other way around.
Robotics is another interesting area to watch. The future will see robots used for minimally invasive surgeries and even assisting clinicians in patient diagnosis and treatment selection. The strength of AI lies in its ability to parse large amounts of data quickly, and it’s easy to see a future for that technology in healthcare. For example, AI could be used to identify patterns that a doctor may have missed and aid physicians with diagnosis. The analytics it provides can also help healthcare administrators make better data-informed decisions. Both AI and robotics will surely make an impact on healthcare in the future.
For nurses, they must continue to adapt and evolve. The core nursing skills will always be applicable, but nurses must not be afraid to try new things and develop new skills. By embracing this and not running away from it, nurses will find themselves in high demand for the nursing roles of the future.
Nurses are uniquely positioned to embrace the opportunities that technology presents for patient care. They must be willing to continuously learn and constantly adapt. Nursing schools must also support this process by including tech literacy in their education and stressing its importance to the nurses of tomorrow. The future of nursing is exciting and will make for a very fulfilling career.