Technology trends transforming the nursing industry

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and cloud adoption are actively contributing to digital transformation worldwide.

The nursing industry is no exception, especially when it comes to applying innovative technological advancements that improve operations and patient care.

From software-enabled command centers to handheld wearables and mobile units, these groundbreaking technologies allow nurses to streamline information and gain critical insights regarding patient status.

Technology continues to alter the nursing landscape in many ways, with the pace of change expected to supercharge with time.

As the nursing shortage continues and life expectancy increases, many of these new medical technologies can help nurses with routine procedures and reduce errors that come from working with too many patients.

In fact, a recent LinkedIn survey of over 600 nurses revealed that 82 believe that innovative technology will positively affect patient care by improving processes.

Keep scrolling and find out the latest technology trends that are transforming the nursing profession for the better.

Telehealth nursing combats shortage

Telehealth has been around nearly as long as online video conferencing apps.

Although it has not always been in widespread usage, the pandemic has led many individuals to try it out and many have stuck around.

According to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth visits increased by 154% from March 2019 to March 2020.

That number is only expected to grow as 35% of Americans have said that they would consider permanently replacing in-person visits with on-demand virtual healthcare.

Whether one sees this is as a positive or not, moving from in-person to virtual follow-ups has transformed how nurses do their jobs in a number of ways but nothing more important than combatting nursing shortage.

Nurses are usually the first point of contact of a patient when seeking healthcare. They can also be the primary source of health education and long-term health monitoring in many healthcare institutions.

With millions of Americans gaining access to healthcare and an aging population, it comes as no surprise that the healthcare sector is facing a nursing shortage.

Nurses work tirelessly to determine and protect the needs of the individual across the entire patient experience and wherever there is someone in need of care.

From ensuring the most accurate treatment options and diagnosis to the ongoing education of the public about critical health issues, nurses are indispensable in protecting public health.

Because of the shortage, patients take more time to heal and recover. If that’s not bad enough, this scarcity has also led to other patient safety issues while significantly impacting mortality rates.

With telehealth, nurses can make themselves available to a wide range of patients. On average, telehealth consultations take 20% less time than in-person visits, saving nurses more time in between appointments.

Since telehealth appointments let nurses spend less time charting and moving between patients, they can engage in more one-on-one interactions with patients and provide them with more personalized care.

While there is a deluge of healthcare resources in the United States, the chances of patients connecting to care remains an issue especially for those who are underserved.

Telehealth nursing can eliminate geographical barriers so that those in rural areas without easy access to care can still access the services they need.

Moreover, telehealth nursing has also made it possible for nurses to conduct patient monitoring remotely. With remote patient monitoring, nurses can reduce the number of hospital readmissions and provide easier and safer help to chronically ill patients.

Connected health devices used in remote patient monitoring can also provide nurses with faster access to important patient data. In doing so, nurses can fast-track diagnoses and facilitate timely treatment plan changes.

Even better, remote patient monitoring enhances patient behavior by creating a system in which everyone is more engaged with and accountable for their health.

When patients are engaged, they have a tendency to take control of their health and embrace recommendations while helping nurses become more effective.

As the baby boomer population continues to age, there is a possibility that the telehealth trend will only continue to grow as it can better meet their needs when they cannot travel on their own.

Robotics and automation reduce errors

Demanding workloads, manual data entry and aspects of the work environment make nursing susceptible to errors.

As a matter of fact, over 750,000 cases of nursing errors were recorded in 2010 with their mortality rate ranging from 44,000 to 90,000 cases.

As per global data, every 1 in 300 errors can lead to death. These nursing errors usually differ but can include the following.

  1. Incorrectly programming an IV pump
  2. Failing to report a change in the patient’s medical condition
  3. Losing track of time and failing to turn on bed alarms for high-risk patients

Thanks to the emergence of innovative technologies such as nursing robots and automation, nurses can now concentrate on tasks pertinent to their primary duties.

With nursing robots, healthcare organizations can cut back on monotonous tasks such as navigating and greeting patients, medication management and even carrying medical devices from point A to point B.

Specifically designed nursing robots can also help with ambulation, patient transfers and lifting, which could significantly reduce physical stress in nurses.

Beyond robots supporting nurses in administrative tasks, they can also help handle patients in more difficult situations.

Other nursing robots can visit with patients who are feeling alone or even help treat mental health issues although more research is needed on the latter point.

While nursing robots and automation are changing healthcare for the better, it is worth noting that they won’t be able to replace nurses full-time.

After all, the nursing profession requires the core of what makes us human, including being empathetic and caring as well as paying attention.

Nevertheless, nurses supported by these robotic and automation tools can manage a larger population of patients at one time.

Rather than scaling their headcount up and down as patient volumes increase or decrease, an automated platform is scalable enough to meet any number of patients.

These technological advancements can also be used as symptom checkers to triage patients automatically. This way, healthcare organizations can quickly identify the right nurse and modality to use for each patient.

Furthermore, automation tools such as electronic health records also allow for the secure sharing of data with patients and other clinicians while simultaneously promoting complete and legible documentation for accurate and centralized coding and billing.

When considering technology that increases and optimizes data sharing, it’s important to remember to keep the data secure. Check out the infographic below to see the impact of cybersecurity in healthcare!

Infographic provided by MCRA, an FDA regulatory consultant for medical devices

Portable diagnostics for increased access to patient care

With the rapid growth of healthcare services in the US, it comes as no surprise that the use of portable diagnostics has started to gain traction within nursing circles.

Using portable diagnostics, nurses can measure health parameters and vital signs in minutes while enabling them to care for a patient more quickly.

Traditionally, measuring health parameters such as heart function is usually done using massive and oversized machines in a laboratory.

With the emergence of portable diagnostics, nurses will be able to get the information they need to make a diagnosis in a timely manner.

Most of these tools can even upload readings online to be shared with advanced clinical professionals for further assessment. Such portable technologies significantly improve access to care in remote areas and facilities lacking specialists.

Expanding the abilities of nurses to care for patients will also mean reaching the eventual goal of lowering healthcare costs and providing a better quality of health services to patients who need them the most.

Sometimes even if the healthcare facility is equipped with a number of innovative medical technologies, nurses are compelled to redirect patients to the room that houses the equipment which will be needed to improve care.

Depending on the number of patients a healthcare institution caters to, this can lead to endless wait times as well as overcrowding.

The glaring advantage of portable medical technologies is the fact that it does not only take less space, but it can also be moved from one room to another.

Through this process, nurses will no longer have to carry the burden of relocating the patient and instead focus on the primary duties of providing the most desired patient care.

Portable diagnostics also make it possible to keep high-risk patients in their living situations. In doing so, nurses can minimize unnecessary hospital visits while reducing transportation needs and potential exposure to transmittable diseases which is a particular benefit in the time of the coronavirus.

For example, a nurse can now follow up the vitals of a Covid-19 positive patient and listen to their lung sounds. In doing so, they can gather essential patient data and send it to a physician for proper monitoring of the patient’s status.

Portable ultrasound devices can further help nurses in other essential tasks. Nurses trained in the use of such technological advancements can immediately estimate fluid retention in the lungs of patients suffering from heart failure.

This way, they can dispense diuretic drugs more accurately to avoid negative fluid retention in those patients.

Other than that, portable medical technologies can also increase medication reconciliation accuracy. More often than not, patients do not recall the names let alone the dosages of the medication they are taking.

This can be a significant issue for polypharmacy and elderly patients as well as other high-risk patients.

With portable medical devices, nurses can improve patient safety and medication management by keeping track of every pill their patients are taking remotely.

This gives them a bird’s eye view of the pick-up and refill history, dosage changes and other important information on an uncluttered screen display.

Online nursing education

As technology in nursing develops, so has technology’s role in education. Gone are the days when the only way to earn a post-master’s FNP, like this one from Rockhurst, is by physically being present on a university campus.

With recent technological advancements, nursing students now have access to online education and can earn their post-master’s degree without taking time off work or moving and finding a new job.

These current advancements are only just the beginning. With the need to update and address the fast data challenges, changes in nursing education are in order.

By making these necessary changes, healthcare leaders can strategize the core competencies that future students will concentrate on, particularly when it comes to dealing with an influx of data once they begin their practice.

The use of simulations is also making some waves within the nursing education circles. Nowadays, instructors are using electronic training mannequins to imitate situations nurses might experience in clinical practice.

Nursing students can subsequently take vital signs and make decisions based on the symptoms of the mannequin. It is a risk-free environment where students can practice their thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Moreover, online virtual realities can also simulate patients. With the use of a screen-based simulation, a nursing student can respond to simulated patients in real-time using the right tools and procedures.

By gamifying nursing education, instructors can capture and stimulate student attention while helping them achieve a more personalized and practical education.

So, you might be wondering where online education fits into improving the entire nursing profession. The simple answer is it can create better and more qualified nurses.

As emphasized above, there is a massive shortage of nurses. However, in some cases, it is not the scarcity of nurses applying but rather the lack of skilled and qualified nurses.

Since nursing students are using real-world examples and tackling real-world problems while studying online, they can quickly apply their skills and make the overall learning process more effective and meaningful.

This is the exact opposite of some traditional nursing programs that focus too much on learning concepts. Although medical concepts are essential, they can only take you so far.

The truth is that most traditional degree programs only provide nurses with the fundamental structure for knowledge that they will develop during their careers.

An online nursing program goes beyond memorizing medical concepts by helping you develop real-world skills that would otherwise be challenging in campus learning.

Unlike traditional learning where an instructor might go out of his or her way to advise and encourage students to submit their homework, online nursing courses will teach you self-reliance.

This includes learning how to succeed without outside motivation and finding it within yourself to attend classes and do the work without anyone giving you constant praise. That can sound daunting. After all, humans are hardwired to seek recognition for everything we do.

But when you are not doing something to gain approval from others, you develop an unbridled mentality to complete your duties regardless of whether someone’s watching or not.

This is especially important in the field of nursing where nurses are required to take initiative and conduct the necessary health procedures to achieve improved patient outcomes.

What to expect from an online nursing program

Now that we’ve laid out the key technological trends shaping the field of nursing and the benefits that come with studying nursing, you might be wondering what to expect from an online degree program.

Regardless of your chosen academic institution, studying for an online nursing degree will most likely mean taking on a wide range of projects and assignments.

Similar to traditional nursing programs, these courses will also have several tasks, including online lectures, case study-based scenarios and scholarly writing.

Since nursing concentrates on population health, epidemiology and statistical principles, more proctored evaluations than usual are to be expected.

You may also be participating in clinical rotations and assignments at residencies where you can put your knowledge and skills into practice.

Several of these clinical rotations and residencies can be coordinated with healthcare facilities close to your place of residence.

During clinical rotations, you will be introduced to real-life practice with expert supervision, unique experiences, and essential relationships with potential employers in addition to counsel from an accomplished mentor.

In most online universities, you will be assigned a capstone experience near the end of the program. This includes finishing a research project, a thesis or perhaps taking and passing several written and practical evaluations.

Either way, these online nursing courses can help you keep up with the latest technological advancements in the field and become a more effective nurse.

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